Very early on in his career Daly Cherry-Evans was anointed by the rugby league media and fans a star in the purest fashion. He was gifted an ear-catching nickname to go with his eye-catching ability.
Not just any nickname either, this nickname was given in pure abbreviated format – DCE.
Like SBW and JT before him, this was a man headed for representative honours and Australian athletic super stardom.
Fast forward six years and despite incredible career-best form, and a raft of injuries to key positions, the moniker DCE cannot even scrape together a bench selection for his state.
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Almost unanimously the rugby league contingent south of the border are in disbelief that this northern beaches superstar is being overlooked by Kevin Walters and co. The Queensland selection panel have already made polarising Origin selection mistakes this year, and now with the stakes even higher, they seemingly roll the dice again.
You can almost hear the excited shallow breathing from prominent NSW sports journalists, their pupils dilating with schadenfreude like glee. Should Queensland fail, the onslaught from the mighty pen will be merciless and indiscriminate.
They have been waiting ten years for bloody vengeance after suffering through a series of embarrassing Bozo selection bungles. They truly feel now is their time, and DCE is the scapegoat for which they can impeach a previously unimpeachable Queensland administration.
From a Queensland point of view, the whole DCE charade is rather amusing. It plays into the Maroons’ Origin mentality quite heavily. Ex-NSW players are screaming over the top of each other in every possible media outlet that Queensland have picked the wrong team.
They can’t win. NSW are stronger and faster. They are the better team. End of a dynasty.
Famous and impossible Queensland series victories have been built on the back of exactly these type of scenarios. Men who in the NSW general opinion don’t deserve Origin selection, underdogs, unknowns, outsiders. Ben Ikin, John Buttagieg, Adam Mogg, John Doyle, and now Tim Glasby and Ben Hunt.
Yet while the whole state howled at the non-selection of Billy Slater in the first game, the passing over of DCE has barely rated a blip on the radar.
For just about the entire history of Origin the Queensland mantra has been ‘when in doubt pick a Bronco’, and Ben Hunt has been at the forefront of a resurgent modern Brisbane Broncos outfit.
Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater, Cameron Munster, and Michael Morgan have all the skills that you can possess on a rugby league field. They can game manage and bring everything to the table DCE does and more. So when considering a bench utility is it really so surprising that Ben Hunt the Bronco is preferred?
Where DCE is polished and slick, Ben Hunt is rugged and versatile. He is more likely to take a hard run and break a tackle, more likely to scramble in cover defence with a grass cutting try saver, more likely to accept his place and be a humble role player, and has far more experience as a bench utility/impact player than DCE.
This selection decision is a no brainer. This is not the local juniors rep team where all the best players get picked for a run on an extended bench. The Kevin Walters era has made a clear and pragmatic decision to pick a team that does a job in game three.
They have picked a team to play to the game plan and win. I smell an ambush, DCE or not.