DCE is ready to become JT.
Manly’s star halfback Daly Cherry-Evans will take on a Johnathan Thurston-type role this season that he says will take his game to “another level”.
Rather than play exclusively on the right side, as Cherry-Evans did when he partnered the now departed Kieran Foran in the Sea Eagles’ halves over the past five years, the 27-year-old will look to mimic the attacking game plan of the NRL’s best player.
Cherry-Evans has been given a free ride to manoeuvre across both sides of the field in attack. It is a similar role to that of Thurston at North Queensland.
His new adventure will kick off against Canterbury this Friday night at Brookvale Oval, where The Daily Telegraph understands the Sea Eagles will be without Brett Stewart, who is battling injury.
Speed sensation Tom Trbojevic is expected to slot into the fullback role.
Under Cherry-Evans’ new role, the Bulldogs face with the daunting task of Trbojevic hovering on the left side of the scheming No. 7, with explosive new recruit Dylan Walker on the right edge.
Coach Trent Barrett talks to Daly Cherry-Evans during a Manly training session. Picture Gregg Porteous
Thurston plays across the entire field predominantly when North Queensland play inside the opposition’s 20-metre zone. And he works wonders.
Sea Eagle fans will be salivating at the idea of Cherry-Evans generating the same impact this season at Brookvale.
Cherry-Evans hasn’t played such an expansive attacking role since his days with Wynnum-Manly in the Queensland Cup back in 2010.
“My situation on the field won’t be restricted to one side, so obviously that is a change in itself. I am really looking forward to roaming across the field and not being pigeonholed to one side. We haven’t tried it yet but hopefully it will be a benefit to the side.
“To put it simply, I will play on the ball, so to speak. Have the ball in my hands and try and give Dylan and Brett opportunities to show their skills set, which is running and passing.
“The last time I played this similar role was in the Queensland Cup, that would be five or six years ago. It’s not foreign to me but it is definitely new. It is something I haven’t been playing for the last few years. Early on in the season I’d like to think I will take but more of an onus to lead the side around and let Dylan settle in over the course of the next few weeks.”
Cherry-Evans knows there will be pressure playing a new style.
“It is a challenge,” he said. “It’s new to me but it’s something I am really looking forward to. It’s the coach’s idea. The coach, basically, is the boss. He has instilled confidence in us about how his structures will work. We need to apply it on the field. I feel it can help me grow as a player.”
Cherry-Evans always expected to take on more responsibility following Foran’s departure at the end of last season. But he’s even more excited at the prospect of a more expansive role shaking up his game.
“I think it’s refreshing to be completely honest. It’s refreshing that I am able to test myself to take my game to another level,” Cherry-Evans said.
“Everything is new at the moment, everyone is optimistic and everything is really looking up. The style of football might even be different this year.”
Manly winger Jorge Taufua was excited at Cherry-Evans’ role switch.
“Those two (Cherry-Evans and Walker) will switch roles every now and then,” Taufua said. “They don’t really have a preferred side. It’s good for both edges.”