The Queensland Maroons have defended the performance of Daly Cherry-Evans following New South Wales’ 26-18 Game II win at the MCG on Wednesday.
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Cherry-Evans filled in for the injured Cooper Cronk and was consistently targeted by Blues forward Ryan Hoffman.
Despite the Manly Sea Eagles star facing large amounts of criticism, Maroons coach Mal Meninga said the 26-year-old was solid under pressure.
“I thought (halves Johnathan Thurston and Cherry-Evans) played extremely well under a lot of pressure,” Meninga is quoted as saying by AAP.
“They ran at Daly quite often. I don’t know how many tackles he made but it was considerable.”
Queensland skipper Cameron Smith also defended Cherry-Evans, who came under fire after turning his back on his deal with the Gold Coast Titans to stay at the Sea Eagles.
“Daly – I thought he was good,” Smith said.
“There’s no doubt they sent Ryan Hoffman at him a few times.
“I think he was up to 20 tackles at half-time, so he would have finished at close to 40 and for a half that’s enormous.
“The effort was great and when you’re only making 15 or 16 tackles a week for your club and you make 40 it does take a bit of starch out of your attack.
“But I thought he was good, he was composed.
“It’s his second game starting at number seven on his back in a State of Origin match so it takes guys a fair while to get used to that role.”
The Blues’ win in front of 90,000 fans at the MCG levelled the series at 1-1, with the decider to be played in Brisbane on July 8.