Cherry-Evans delivers humble pie to his critics
RUGBY LEAGUE: Now that Queensland have won State of Origin game one under the captaincy of Daly Cherry-Evans, those in the media who have continued to harangue the guy for the past four years might bin the poisoned pen.
I concede my memory is not what it once was, but in just on four decades covering the greatest game of all I cannot recall a player more vilified than Daly Cherry-Evans for simply playing within the rules.
Sure, in 2015 he reneged on a four-year, $4million deal to join the Gold Coast Titans.
He subsequently signed the richest deal in NRL history - an eight-year extension to stay at the Sea Eagles, worth $10million.
Sounds devious, and it probably was, but DCE was playing within the rules. The NRL had introduced a ludicrous "cooling off" period statute where players had 10 days after signing a contract to reconsider their future, and that included defaulting on those agreements.
Cherry-Evans wasn't the only player to use the rule to his advantage. Many have done it - and big names too. But none have been slandered like DCE.
Going back to 2010, current Fox Sports pin-up boy Luke Lewis reneged on a deal to leave the Panthers and join the Rabbitohs; squeaky-clean James Tedesco, the current Kangaroos and Blues fullback, backflipped on his decision to join the Raiders in 2014 and stayed with the Tigers; Canberra's Josh Papalii was signed and sealed, yet never delivered to the Eels, also in 2014.
And I doubt too many Broncos supporters have forgotten that Greg Inglis, after leaving the salary cap-strapped Storm at the end of 2010, gave a handshake commitment to the Brisbane hierarchy before reneging 36 hours later.
Not for one moment am I suggesting that any of these guys did the wrong thing, legally. OK, so in each case things were murky, and ostensibly dishonourable, but they were playing within the rules - ridiculous rules implemented by the governing body to no doubt protect the players, primarily from themselves.
But why Cherry-Evans has been singled out, painted as a mercenary and derided in the media - as recently as in the lead-up to Wednesday's Origin opener - totally bemuses me. He, like the rest of them, merely exploited a loophole, and looked after his own backyard.
DCE should be admired in our game, not reviled. He is the captain of his club and now his state, has represented his country and is undoubtedly one of the chief reasons the Maroons are one-up in the Origin series.
But, just as importantly, he is intelligent, articulate and a genuine thinker about the game. As the greatly respected Peter Sterling said after Wednesday's marvellous victory by the Cherry-Evans inspired Queensland, rugby league could sure do with more of his ilk.