Cherry-Evans hails Bennett impact after Origin I win

By Sports Desk November 04, 2020

Daly Cherry-Evans hailed the impact of returning Queensland coach Wayne Bennett after he was named man of the match in the Maroons' Origin I win over New South Wales.

Wednesday's 2020 State of Origin opener - delayed until after the NRL season due to the coronavirus pandemic - saw Queensland record a surprise victory, overturning a 10-point deficit to win 18-14 in Adelaide.

Manly Sea Eagles’ Cherry-Evans edged out impressive rookie Kurt Capewell for the MVP award after converting tries from Alexander Brimson, Xavier Coates and Cameron Munster.

Queensland trailed 10-0 at half-time but ultimately prevailed with Bennett – who is being supported by Mal Meninga and Neil Henry - rewarded for his bold call to play eight debutants.

The Maroons are now well placed to prevent NSW from winning a third straight series.

"I never have been coached by Wayne before and he has a presence about him," said Maroons captain Cherry-Evans. 

"We are that lucky with the coaching staff we have got that they have coached a lot of big games.

"They definitely did a lot of the settling of the nerves during the week. It allowed me to just concentrate on being the halfback, which was good.

"Mal, I have been lucky enough to be coached by him and he definitely has a presence amongst him. 

"It is not unnerving or unsettling, but it makes you comfortable and sure of yourself. We had that. I could [feel their presence]."

Asked what Bennett had said to inspire a turnaround at half-time, Cherry-Evans said: "To be more direct. Once we got those messages and clarity, I thought that we found our groove."

Munster, meanwhile, felt the Maroons had provided the perfect answer to their critics.

"There is a lot of hunger in that group and no one gave us a chance," said Munster, who recently celebrated NRL Grand Final glory with Melbourne Storm.

"We just dug deep, just completing sets and kicking to the corners - that is what we did."

After Queensland had scored 18 unanswered points, Josh Addo-Carr crossed for his second try of the match with five minutes to go as NSW moved to within one score of victory.

Munster attempted to keep the young team calm, adding: "I was pretty much swearing, 'Boys, you cannot lose it'. 

"We needed to dig deep - the Blues are a great outfit and they can score all over the field. We just needed to get up."

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    2 – Smith was crowned the NRL's best and fairest player in 2006 and 2017. Only Thurston (four) and Andrew Johns (three) earned more honours.

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