Daly Cherry-Evans is setting his sights high as Manly aim to turn last year’s NRL grand final disappointment into glory in 2014.
He claimed a Queensland Origin jersey, a Kangaroos jersey and the Clive Churchill medal in a brilliant 2013 season.
But as Daly Cherry-Evans enters the 2014 NRL season, two near-misses help ensure he won’t rest on his laurels.
The Manly halfback was shattered after last season’s Sea Eagles’ grand final loss to the Roosters.
It came just weeks after he narrowly missed out on the Dally M Medal to Cooper Cronk – the man keeping him out of a coveted starting spot for both state and country.
By delicious coincidence, Manly’s March 8 season-opener is against Cronk’s Melbourne Storm.
The 25-year-old Cherry-Evans is too experienced to treat that as any more than a battle for two competition points for his team.
“I’ve never looked at head-to-head battles,” he said.
“I do enjoy playing against the best players, but to be honest for me to just worry about myself and a head-to-head battle would be quite selfish and it wouldn’t be in the best interests of my side.”
However, Cherry-Evans is adamant he can pursue even greater heights than he achieved last season.
“You top it by winning the Dally M and winning the grand final,” he said.
“There was a lot of positives to take out of last year.
“Although some situations didn’t finish the way I would have liked them to, I still put myself in that position to be in contention.
“That is the plan, to continue on and be in those positions every year.”
Alongside halves partner Kieran Foran, Cherry-Evans will again hold Manly’s title aspirations in his hands and after another off-season honing his game with master playmaker Andrew Johns, he’s raring to go.
Signed with Manly until the end of 2015, Cherry-Evans’ future at the club has been the centre of speculation with Brisbane rumoured to be hovering.
But while the skilful playmaker says he doesn’t have to worry about deciding his future for some time, he has given Eagles’ fans reason for optimism, admitting he hopes to be a one-club player and declaring his halves partnership with Foran will hold huge sway.
“Kieran is definitely influential in what my future holds at Manly,” he said.
“He’s such a great competitor and such a great bloke off the field as well.”