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Daly Cherry-Evans' shot at Origin spot

NZN 24/06/2017 Scott Bailey

Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans has his best chance to push for Queensland's vacant State of Origin playmaker role against Cronulla on Sunday at Southern Cross Group Stadium.

Seemingly forgotten by the Maroons' hierarchy, the six-time Origin representative hopes to present a case too hard to ignore against the NSW-laden Sharks.

Cherry-Evans sits third in the NRL for try assists, and has turned the Sea Eagles' attack this year into the most-potent in the competition.

He also leads all of Queensland's likely contenders for the No.6 jersey in terms of try assists, line-break assists and field goals this season.

His 11 line dropouts forced and two 40-20 kicks are well above Michael Morgan's and Cameron Munster's numbers.

Yet, when Queensland coach Kevin Walters went through his list of possible Thurston replacements on Thursday night, Cherry-Evans did not get a mention.

Munster and Morgan were nominated, along with Parramatta's Corey Norman. Even struggling Canterbury playmaker Moses Mbye's name came up.

On Sunday against the Sharks, though, Cherry-Evans - who is zero-from-two when starting for the Maroons - can make his statement.

Up against two NSW forwards in Andrew Fifita and Wade Graham, he will also go head-to-head with Blues five-eighth James Maloney.

No side pressures halves like coach Shane Flanagan's Sharks, who are ranked No.1 in defence this year and will have all five of their Origin players available.

"Taking his time away from him and that will make it a little harder for him," Flanagan said.

"We pressure all opposition halves and he will be no different on the weekend."

Sunday's match takes on even more importance for Cherry-Evans' hopes of a representative future, with Queensland's next chapter of loyalty like to be set in Origin III.

Thurston has played his last game for Queensland, while Cooper Cronk's uncertain future means both Maroons halves' spots could be available next year.

Australia also need a new playmaker for the end-of-year World Cup.

Former great Queensland great Wally Lewis told AAP he didn't think Cherry-Evans would have a problem switching from halfback to No.6 if selected by the Maroons.

But he believed the fact Morgan and Munster both played No.6 at club level would work against the Manly star.

"That is probably something the selectors will talk about," Lewis said.

"But the other guys there have that general understanding."

STATS THAT MATTER:

* Cronulla are ranked No.1 for defence, while Manly are No.1 in attack

* Cronulla have a win record of 27.3 per cent against Manly - their worst against any team

* The Sharks have trailed at halftime in the past six games, but won five of them

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