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DCE ready for No.7 battle with Cleary

Queensland captain and halfback Daly Cherry-Evans says he is far from finished as a representative player and as he targets a starting spot in Australia’s World Cup side.

The 33-year-old will play halfback in the Australian Prime Minister’s XIII against Papua New Guinea in Brisbane on Sunday when he will make his case in the battle with Penrith and NSW halfback Nathan Cleary for the starting No.7 spot.

Coach Mal Meninga said it would be wrong to say Cleary had the jump on the Manly captain for the World Cup gig.

“I haven’t said that at all. I have said to Daly, and I haven’t talked to Nathan because he is still playing, that they are the two best sevens in the competition in my view,” Meninga said.

“Daly had a terrific Origin series and Nathan is killing it in clubland. They will be fighting it out. They will both go on tour in my mind.”

Cherry-Evans has played 15 Tests and was Australia’s starting half when they last played in 2019. He also has utility value as he showed while winning the 2013 World Cup from the bench with Australia.

He said the PM’s XIII clash was “a great platform” for him to make his case with Manly not playing finals football.

“I am going to make sure I make the best impression so I am in the best 17 for Australia,” Cherry-Evans said.

Cherry-Evans intends to keep playing State of Origin next year. He led the Maroons to two series wins out of the last three, including this year where he had one of his best games ever in the series decider.

“I am not sure how much that will be weighed into (World Cup) discussions by the selectors and the coach but I am really proud of that performance in particular,” Cherry-Evans said.

“I am so lucky to be Queensland captain and I will take great pride in doing it for as long as I can.

“I know when my time is up I will have a close enough group around me to tell me that it’s my time and to step aside. As far as I know I will be back there next year and I will have another crack at it.”

Cherry-Evans can’t play forever but 20-year-old Sydney Roosters half Sam Walker will also play in the PM’s XIII game and is waiting in the wings to play for Queensland and possibly the Kangaroos.

Walker was in camp with the Maroons for the Origin decider where he learned plenty.

“There is no doubt Sammy’s ability is pretty top shelf and I am glad he is a Queenslander,” Manly skipper Cherry-Evans said.

“It is not for me to say who is the next Queensland halfback but if they do earmark him as that player then I would love to play a role in helping him to develop.”

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