Mateship will be key to success: Qld's DCE
Back in 2015, many believed Daly Cherry-Evans' Queensland passport had been stamped "never to play State of Origin again".
Nasty rumours had circulated about Cherry-Evans falling out with Maroons teammates in camp.
There was speculation the halfback had rubbed senior players the wrong way.
Critics said he didn't "get" Origin.
What a difference four years make.
On Wednesday night, Cherry-Evans will cap one of the great comebacks when he leads out Queensland as captain in the Origin series opener at Suncorp Stadium.
And in a sign of how far the man once perceived as an Origin outcast had come, the 30-year-old said "mateship" would be the strength to his successful captaincy.
"It's the gains you make off the field that you hope can bring you together on Wednesday night," Cherry-Evans said.
"I am hoping it's the mateship and the way we have come together in camp so quickly (that's his strength as skipper).
Cherry-Evans appeared to be a changed man when he ended a three-year exile and was picked for last year's Origin III, a dead rubber.
There was no sign of the polarising figure he had been accused of being in the 2015 Queensland camp.
He welcomed the media with open arms.
He didn't shy away from his maligned reputation in Queensland, even giving himself a few self-deprecating digs.
But more importantly he inspired the Maroons' face saving 18-12 Origin III win.
Yet that paled in comparison to the elder statesman Cherry-Evans presented when he fronted the media as skipper on Monday.
Cherry-Evans spoke thoughtfully and honestly, not baulking on any topic including throwing his support behind indigenous Origin players boycotting the national anthem.
So there was no hint of arrogance when Cherry-Evans said the Maroons captaincy felt "right" and claimed the title would not be overwhelming.
"I'm very confident in the person I am and the footy player I am," he said.
"Most games are won and lost between the ears and my head is switched on and focused for the job...(so) I don't believe it (captaincy) will be too overwhelming.
"Even getting the captaincy is something I wasn't uncomfortable about.
"It is something I was always open to provided the time was right and I am standing here now as Queensland captain so the time must be right - it feels right.
"It doesn't feel uncomfortable or unnatural, so it will be a special moment leading the Queensland side out but it's business as usual."
It remains to be seen how Cherry-Evans' Queensland captaincy is judged.
But it appears those dark days of 2015 are already well behind him.
© AAP 2019