The selection of Ben Hunt in the Queensland side for the Game III decider against New South Wales reeks of pure Broncos bias. Ben Hunts’ form since his error ridden Grand Final performance in 2015 against North Queensland has not warranted representative selection.
After a below par 2016 season, many expected a rejuvenated Ben Hunt in 2017. Instead, Hunt has spent the last month either playing for the Ipswich Jets in the Queensland Cup competition or warming the Brisbane Broncos interchange bench.
The general consensus among pundits was that Daly Cherry-Evans was a shoo-in for the Maroons side for Game III given his recent form and prior experience.
What makes the Cherry-Evans snub even more surprising is the ultimatum QLD selector (and Ex-Bronco…) Darren Lockyer gave Cherry-Evans 24 hours before Manly’s match against The New Zealand Warriors. “All Daly needs to secure his spot in the QLD side for the decider at Suncorp Stadium on July 11 – is a man of the match performance against the Warriors”.
Well, Cherry-Evans delivered. Scoring a try whilst assisting three others in a come from behind 26-22 victory; which saw DCE given Man of the Match honours. Meanwhile, in Brisbane, Ben Hunt put in below average performance against the Melbourne Storm which saw the Broncos lose 42-12.
Cherry-Evans has been hit with criticism in recent weeks for the punctual and polite way in which he speaks to media. To criticise a player and to label him ‘’full of shit’’ (Andrew Webster, I’m looking at you) for the way in which he presents himself to media, fans and match officials is disgusting. Do we want all our players to give bone head responses?
Cherry-Evans has not once been fined, suspended or put himself in hot water for misbehaving off the football field. He is a champion player and the perfect role-model; one who all young footballers should look up to and aspire to be.
The Mackay junior of the Brothers Bulldogs fold has returned to form this season, leading Manly into third spot at the three-quarter mark of the competition. Currently in career best form with 20 try assists, 16-line break assists, 3-line breaks, 2 tries and 23 average tackles per game – DCE has eclipsed many expectations this year.
And although having a serviceable forward pack behind him, it’s not one of the better ones in the competition, speaking volumes of how well Cherry-Evans has performed in 2017.
Cherry-Evans is a premiership winning halfback (2011), has won a Clive Churchill medal in a losing Grand Final side (2013), has represented his country 11 times (2011-14) and has six prior State of Origin caps (2013-15).
Despite having a poor performance in the 2014 series, Cherry-Evans remains the best choice to fill the vacant utility role on Queensland’s bench – not Ben Hunt. Hunt has caved under pressure in big games time after time after time.
His performance in the 2015 grand final will go down as one of the worst of all time. His finals series last year wasn’t much better and last week against the competition leaders, Melbourne, well, we all know what happened…
Some may argue that the decision of Hunt and Cherry-Evans doesn’t matter as they may only see 15 minutes of football off the interchange bench in Game III. Fifteen minutes is a long time in State of Origin football.
Tim Glasby proved that in his short-lived stint in Game II, where he let in two New South Wales tries which saw momentum swing completely in New South Wales favour for much of the contest. Fifteen minutes in the cauldron that is State of Origin can be make or break for certain players.
Cherry-Evans never lost his place on the Queensland bench. Injury during Game I of the 2015 series saw Michael Morgan grasp that spot and hasn’t looked back since. If Queensland’s loyalty formula WAS a thing, Cherry-Evans should have been penciled in for an Origin recall come Game III.