Cooper Cronk remains Queensland’s premier halfback according to coach Mal Meninga despite the rise of Manly’s Daly Cherry-Evans.
Cooper Cronk’s State of Origin heroics have earned him the right to retain Queensland’s halfback spot despite the rise of Manly’s Daly Cherry-Evans, according to Maroons coach Mal Meninga.
Cherry-Evans has prompted debate over whether he can snatch Queensland’s No.7 jersey off Cronk for this year’s series following his impressive start to the 2014 NRL campaign.
The Clive Churchill medallist has been a key performer in the Sea Eagles’ solid start to the year but Meninga doesn’t think there should be a debate over whether the 25-year-old is in a position to overtake Dally M medallist Cronk.
“I know Daly is such an unselfish player and a team player, he’s been quoted saying he’ll bide his time,” Meninga said.
“Cooper’s one of, if not close to the number one halfback in the competition and he won us the series last year.
“He’s an extraordinary player. They’re both extraordinary footy players and they both deserve to be in our footy team.”
The Maroons will base themselves for this year’s series on the Gold Coast after it was confirmed the team will hold their pre-game camps at the Sanctuary Cove Resort, a venue they last stayed at in 2008.
Meninga said he’s hopeful injured pair Justin Hodges and Josh Papalii will be putting their hands up to be part of those camps despite both facing limited chances to prove their fitness and form.
“He’s not too far away from playing and if he’s playing well, he’ll be selected in the football side,” Meninga said of veteran centre Hodges.
“He can handle it. He knows what to expect. Regardless of match fitness he’s one of those players that can handle it.
“It is a concern where Josh is concerned.
“He’ll be back with three games but I think three games is enough to prove your fitness and if he’s playing well and deserves to be in the team, well we’ll pick him.”
Meninga said the move to Sanctuary Cove is about keeping things fresh as he aims to continue his team’s remarkable streak of Origin series wins.
“Routine’s important but we’re always looking to improve,” he said.
“We’re constantly trying to come up with new ideas. Accommodation is one of those ideas where we can keep minds and bodies fresh. It’s important we do that from a player’s perspective.
“We’ll be changing small things from the program to try and enhance it and get the best out of the players and create an environment where we can be successful.”