DCE leads Manly a different way after stint with Brownlow ace

Daly Cherry-Evans returned to Manly a different man after spending time in Melbourne working with Carlton captain and Brownlow medallist Patrick Cripps.

Cherry-Evans and Josh Schuster made the trek last month to work on their kicking technique. The Manly skipper struck up an immediate rapport with Cripps.

“Since that trip I’ve seen significant growth in his leadership,” coach Anthony Seibold told The Sun-Herald of Cherry-Evans. “Just the way he asks questions of others, the way he presents himself in front of the group, and even the way he owns the huddle. I’m proud of the way he’s led the group since he’s come back.”

Cripps also took a lot out of the experience.

“Spending time discussing our approaches to leadership and how it overlaps in both games we play was really worthwhile,” Cripps said.

“The best part was just asking each other questions about experiences we faced as a club, and especially Daly, with his experience playing for Manly, Queensland in Origin and Australia.”

Carlton’s Charlie Curnow (left) and Patrick Cripps with Sea Eagles pair Josh Schuster and Daly Cherry-Evans.Credit:Carlton

Cherry-Evans, 34, has had to use all his experience to adapt to playing under another coach, and to dust himself off after losing the Kangaroos No. 7 jersey to Nathan Cleary. While he helped prepare the Roos to win the World Cup, he won’t let on how much it crushed him not being on the field in the final.

Whenever heads have rolled on the northern beaches, Cherry-Evans has been the one most affected. Nobody works more closely with the coach than the club’s $10 million man.

Cherry-Evans started under Des Hasler in 2011, then played for Geoff Toovey when Hasler left amid controversy to join the Bulldogs. Trent Barrett took the helm from 2016-18. He also left amid drama as Hasler made his second coming. Hasler was shown the door at the end of last season after again falling out with club management. Seibold is the club’s fifth coach (counting Hasler twice) in just over 12 years.

Daly Cherry-Evans in action against Lebanon at the Rugby League World Cup.Credit:Getty

“This is my fifth change of coach, but you just have to embrace it, and I’ve never been one to dwell on change,” Cherry-Evans said.

“You always get a bit of sadness when it happens. I’ve had four really good coaches who have had an impact on me as a player and person. He [Hasler] was a very loyal man, which is something I will always appreciate.

“I’ve prided myself on being able to adapt, be it a rule change, a change in game plan or even a change in coach.”

Cherry-Evans worked with Seibold when he was an assistant to Barrett. He said the former South Sydney and Brisbane mentor had galvanised the playing group.

If Seibold’s time at the Sea Eagles is to be a success, he needs Tom Trbojevic fit and firing. He needs Cherry-Evans at his best nearly as much.

His World Cup setback has motivated Cherry-Evans. He also had to pick himself up after being stripped of the Kangaroos vice-captaincy, especially as coach Mal Meninga wanted him as James Tedesco’s deputy.

Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans.Credit:Getty

“I’m a competitive guy; I went over to England with the motivation to be the Australian halfback, but it didn’t work out,” Cherry-Evans said.

“That’s life. Sometimes you don’t get what you want, and you’re not the right man for the job. I’ve accepted it. But it’s given me extra motivation to keep my game at a higher level, and to try and go to another level this year with my teammates.

“I got dropped from the Australian team. That keeps the fire burning in the belly. It’s Nathan’s [Cleary] jersey until he retires now, but if a situation pops up where he’s not available, I want to be playing good footy so I’m straight back in there.”

Club legend Ken Arthurson, 93, still rates Cherry-Evans above Cleary, and says it is not his Manly bias.

“Irrespective of his age, in my view he’s still as good, if not the best halfback in the game,” Arthurson said.

Cherry-Evans will team up with Cooper Johns next Saturday against Canterbury in the Sea Eagles’ season opener. A few years ago, Johns made a point of studying the top halfbacks, taking one element of their game and trying to implement it into his own.

He liked the way Cleary dominated the middle third of the field, and noted Cherry-Evans was always pushing up in support.

“Dad [Matthew Johns] always said ‘Chez’ was the best supporting half in the NRL,” Johns said. “If the ball goes the other way, his job isn’t done and he’ll push through the middle of the field. That’s why he gets so many long-distance tries. He’s always looking to capitalise on line-breaks.”

It’s been a difficult period on the northern beaches, but there’s a different vibe about the club in 2023. They have a new coach, and a skipper with a point to prove.

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