Stepping up ... Daly Cherry-Evans will face an old adversary in the form of Ben Hunt at Brookvale Oval tonight. Photo: Wolter Peeters
DALY CHERRY-EVANS was often overlooked by junior representative selectors for the man he will line up against tonight in his 50th NRL appearance.
Despite being a year younger than Cherry-Evans, Ben Hunt was regularly getting the nod alongside Chris Sandow in the halves in Queensland representative sides.
Cherry-Evans did not even get a look-in.
The Broncos five-eighth, who comes from Rockhampton, has taken a lot longer to fulfil his potential than Cherry-Evans and Sandow in the NRL, even though he was ahead of his age coming through the junior ranks.
''When it came to rep sides, in regards to the Queensland team, Chris Sandow was always the man to beat for the halfback spot,'' Cherry-Evans said.
''He was obviously a great talent as a kid, and he still is now. Benny was a year younger than me and he was making teams ahead of me as well. They were definitely the young guns growing up.
''Ben's always had the potential to be a great first-grade player. He played up an age when it came to rep sides. He was always a talent as a kid. I was never in their sights. Probably because I wasn't good enough. I didn't make too many rep sides so, to be honest, that's why I wasn't in too many NRL clubs' sights as a kid.''
Cherry-Evans, who made his Test debut during last year's Four Nations Tour, has played with and against several of the Broncos players throughout his career.
He grew up in Mackay playing with Kiwis international Josh Hoffman, while fellow international Jack Reed, who played for England in last year's Four Nations, also spent some time in the same side as the Manly halfback.
''When I was in under 18s, I played alongside Jack Reed at Western District Panthers in Brisbane,'' Cherry-Evans said.
''Me and Jack still keep in contact, he's a good bloke - I've got a lot of time for Jack.
''I played junior footy with Josh Hoffman in Mackay. He was always going to be a superstar. Not so much when he was too young, but when he got older he developed and became a bit of a weapon in rugby league. The rest speaks for itself in regards to him playing for his country.''
Broncos coach Anthony Griffin has retained Corey Norman at fullback, leaving Hoffman on the wing.
Fellow winger Gerard Beale is confident the Broncos can end their five-game losing streak in his first game at Brookvale Oval for Brisbane.
"We are getting close to a win for sure,'' Beale said before the clash against the team that knocked them out of premiership contention last year.
"We are all looking forward to the game against Manly. We actually need another tough game, and it's a great challenge for us to be playing Manly, who are looking very good at the moment. They are always so difficult to beat at their home ground. They are reigning premiers and are such a good side - we will have to play very well to beat them.
"I haven't played at Brookvale before with the boys, but it looks like it has that local football ground feel and they get so much support. I am really looking forward to the game - the crowd and noisy atmosphere can help us lift as a team for sure.
"Manly just blew Newcastle off the park last week. We will have to be ready for them and play really well if we are to win. They have good players everywhere … They are just such a good side.''