‘Don’t write me off’: DCE plans Maroon miracle
Daly Cherry-Evans is plotting a Maroons miracle with Queensland's incumbent halfback revealing he is ready to defy the medical odds to make a shock comeback for Origin I.
Speaking exclusively to The Sunday Mail about the injury blow that could cost him the Maroons captaincy, Cherry-Evans yesterday uttered the words every Queensland fan is hoping to hear.
"I can make it back in time," Cherry-Evans said.
"I'm definitely a chance for Origin I."
The traditional recovery time for that operation is eight-to-ten weeks, a scenario that could threaten to wipe Cherry-Evans out of the entire Origin series.
But a more modern procedure, which involves using a tightrope instead of screws to strengthen the ankle region and speed recovery, has seen several AFL stars return to action in four-to-five weeks.
That is the time frame Cherry-Evans is banking on. The Maroons ace will rely on around-the-clock icing and a $35,000 treadmill developed by American space agency NASA to ensure he runs onto Suncorp Stadium for Origin I on June 5.
Recalled to the Queensland team for Origin III last year after three years, Cherry-Evans was superb, piloting the Maroons to a face-saving 18-12 victory in the Suncorp dead rubber.
"If I missed Game One I'd be gutted, I will do everything possible to play," Cherry-Evans said.
"I am going to give myself every chance to play for Queensland.
"It's a genuine possibility of me playing Game One.
"My first thought process when I went down was, 'Geez, this is a bit worse than just a rolled ankle'. Once I got my head around the fact I would have to leave the field, there was more than just the fear of missing a few Manly games, I thought, 'I might not be able to wear the Queensland jersey'.
"I probably could have come back quicker if I chose not to have the operation, but I spoke to the doctors and they said surgery would go a long way towards minimising the risk of this injury ever happening again.
"They put a tightrope in which gives my ankle more structural support, but the fact I've had surgery means my recovery time has been pushed back a bit."
Cherry-Evans is now racing the clock.
The Queensland team for Origin I will be chosen on May 27 at the conclusion of round 11.
Cherry-Evans hopes to return in that round against the Titans, but Queensland coach Kevin Walters could pick him without any comeback game - giving the halfback an extra nine days of recovery time.
Cherry-Evans could be back running within three weeks thanks to the Alter-G, an anti-gravity treadmill which allows athletes to train at just 20 per cent of their body weight, reducing stress on an injured body part.
"I'm setting myself an ambitious goal of trying to be back for round 11 which would be four weeks (since surgery)," he said.
"If I wasn't to be able to play that game, I would like to think I'm back to full training in round 12 and that would enable me to go straight into Origin camp and not worry about second-guessing my ankle.
"I will only make myself available if I'm fully fit.
"If Kevvie wants to pick me, it would be on the basis that he is confident in me and has had the medical assurances that I will be OK to play that game.
"I wouldn't do it to Kevvie, my teammates or the Queensland fans by playing injured.
"I hate missing games for Manly as well, but I will only play when my body is ready to ... hopefully in time for Origin I."
Cherry-Evans is the red-hot favourite to captain the Maroons and said he would relish the responsibility.
"If it was to happen, it would be a dream come true to captain Queensland," he said.
"It's been a rollercoaster ride in my career, particularly in Origin, and that honour would be one of my greatest achievements in football"
"I feel being the captain at Manly for the last couple of years holds me in good stead to take on such responsibility.
"I also took a lot of confidence from being in past Queensland and Australian camps. I had the luxury to learn from Cameron Smith, Greg Inglis, Billy (Slater), 'JT' (Johnathan Thurston) and Cooper Cronk.
"I don't want to get ahead of myself. There's a lot of work to do before I'm even ready to play in Origin I but I'm leaving no stone unturned."