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Vic looks at Daly M and Rugby league's Q-Cup conundrum
A common moan from those opposed to expansion of the NRL is that there aren't enough quality players to fill more teams, despite the annual player exodus to the Northern hemisphere and the salary cap enforced retirement of senior players for younger models.
Going out on a limb I'm going to guess these critics don't have the pleasure of tuning in to the Queensland Cup competition on the ABC each Saturday afternoon, presented superbly by the Ron Burgundy groomed Warren Boland and undoubtedly the number two rugby league competition in Australia.
For these people I can understand why they might have some hesitations about the strength of the Q Cup with its mix of former BRL big boys, powerful local teams and new regional franchises playing in front of park footy sized crowds.
But whilst the Q-Cup might not be the most shrewdly marketed comp on the sporting scene (how many team's called the Seagulls does one comp need?) for rugby league talent spotters it's akin to searching for beautiful women at the Miss Universe pageant.
Some of the comp's recent graduates making the big time on the back page include Jack Reed, Matt Gillet and of course your Dally M Rookie of the year, Daly Cherry-Evans.
At the start of the year Daly Cherry-Evans looked like a blond Sunny Coast surf bum who paddled too far out to sea one day and washed up on Manly beach in front of Des Hasler on his morning walk.
Manly needed a halfback following the loss of Trent Hodgkinson and boom, a match made in heaven. Not much could be further from the truth. Hailing from Mackay originally Cherry-Evans spent years in the Manly junior system before being sent back to QLD to sharpen his skills in open age completion with the Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles Q-Cup side, a move that has been shown to be particularly savvy given the maturity he has shown in guiding around Manly's fearsome forward pack in 2011.
To see a young play maker like Cherry-Evans not only be given a chance but succeed at first grade rugby league is testament to the professionalism that the Manly club has shown since its mid 2000's revival, as well as the short sightedness of the ARL to ban NSW NRL teams from entering feeder teams in comps North of the border.
Without the benefit of the Manly relationship this year Daly's old team the Sunshine Coast finished last with just two wins, a result that whilst somewhat foreseeable is not a great advertisement for the game in a future expansion area.
Here's hoping that in the future there are plenty of more quality players in the mould of Cherry-Evans to come out of the Queensland cup, and that their skill and decision making abilities can be matched in some part by the stakeholders running rugby league.