Foran backs Cherry-Evans for Dally M

Written By Unknown on Senin, 30 September 2013 | 23.40

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They are now rated the NRL's best halves combination - and Kieran Foran is backing his Manly scrumbase partner Daly Cherry-Evans to kick off grand final week celebrations by being crowned Dally M Medal winner for 2013.

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Cherry-Evans will take time out of his preparations for Sunday night's season decider for a gala night at The Star to see who wins rugby league's most prestigious individual award.

The Sea Eagles halfback is on a star-studded list of contenders that also includes Greg Inglis, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Jarrod Mullen, John Sutton, Josh Reynolds, Robbie Farah and Todd Carney.

Thurston and Inglis are the favourites for the top prize, but Foran reckons no player in the NRL finished the season stronger than Cherry-Evans.

"I think he will win, I honestly do," Foran told The Daily Telegraph.

"I have said to a few people over the last few days, I think he is a massive smokie for it.

"He was up there at the beginning and I don't think another player would have finished with as many votes as he did."

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When voting went private after 16 rounds Cronk was leading on 16 points, one point ahead of Inglis, Sutton and Mullen who were all on 15. Josh Reynolds was on 14, just ahead of Cherry-Evans, Thurston and Robbie Farah all on 13, and Carney on 12.

Cherry-Evans wasn't getting his hopes up on Monday but says it would be a dream come true to be crowned the game's best player for 2013.

"I have got no doubt in my mind it is going to be one of the closest Dally M counts we have seen in a while," Cherry-Evans said.

"I am backing Queensland to win it through either Inglis, Cronk or Thurston.

"I'm the dark horse.

"I'm not expected to win it and I'm not expecting to win it.

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"But if I can walk out of there with the Dally M around my neck I'd be one of the proudest people on earth."

Foran is predicting this could be just the start of a couple of big months for Cherry-Evans.

With the awards followed by the grand final on Sunday, some are also suggesting Cherry-Evans could end up challenging Cronk for the Kangaroos No.7 jumper at the World Cup.

The Cronk-Thurston partnership has been a foundation for Queensland and the Kangaroos since Darren Lockyer's retirement but we are about to see the emergence of a new rivalry, similar to what Australia had in the days of Peter Sterling and Steve Mortimer, and Ricky Stuart and Allan Langer.

Foran says there is no doubt Cherry-Evans came back from Origin this year a better player - and if the Australia team was picked on form, Foran says Cronk would have a fight on his hands.

"I mean, I think Thurston and Cronk have got a great combination there and they have proved that together. But if you are talking on form, I think he has been the form half of the competition in the last 10 to 12 weeks," Foran said.

"When he came back from Origin I just think he must have got a lot of confidence out of playing those games and being around those world class players.

"I just noticed a massive change to him.

"I think he has been the best half in the competition by a country mile in this last 10 to 12 weeks."

Cherry-Evans admits his long-term goal is to be rated the best halfback in the game - but for now he just wants to win a seat on the plane to England at the end of the season.

"I definitely have a goal to be a part of that side at the end of the year," Cherry-Evans said.

"I know that to be in that side I need to play the best football I possibly can for Manly so as long as I worry about that first the rest will happen later.

"At some stage of my career I'd love to be known as the best player in the game but I think that is a few years off me.

"There are people who have had a lot more time in the game than I have and they have earned their stripes.

"So for me to think that I am in that echelon of players this early in my career I think would be a bit rude.

"I need to continue to play good footy over the next couple of years and then them accolades will look after themselves."

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