Andrew Johns – arguably the greatest halfback in history – is a better person to judge who should play No.7 for Australia than just about anybody else.
The two-time premiership-winner did it all during his career, finding success at club, Origin and international level at halfback and hooker.
And with the Rugby League World Cup looming, Johns has made a huge call on who should fill the contentious role this October for the Kangaroos.
Speaking on Freddy And The Eighth, Johns pushed for Daly Cherry-Evans to play in the halfback spot and captain the side, despite the continuous run of form that Nathan Cleary is on and his performance in the qualifying final last Friday night.
“I think Daly Cherry-Evans deserves to be halfback after his Origin series,” he said.
“Before Origin, I thought Nathan would – but I thought if you’re looking at Origin, it hurts me to say it – I think Daly deserves it after the Origin series.
“This is my point of view – Daly is the incumbent, we haven’t played for a couple of years for Australia.
“I think he deserves first shot and the captaincy.”
DCE was instrumental in Queensland’s success in this year’s Origin campaign, leading them to an upset victory in the decider and playing in all three matches.
Cleary had a solid series for the Blues despite coming up short, but has been integral in Penrith’s stay atop the NRL ladder and progression through to the prelim final.
NSW coach Brad Fittler believes the Panthers pivot has performed at a level worthy of taking the Kangaroos job off the incumbent.
“I think Nathan has done [enough],” he said.
“They will pick them both [in the squad], there’s no doubt. Both will go away and will get the chance to have a fight.
“I’m assuming they are going to have pretty good competition.
“I think Nathan, his consistency if I was the coach, week-in and week-out he is at least an eight [out of 10].”
Mal Meninga will announce his squad for the World Cup in the coming weeks, with a number of key positions seemingly up for grabs.
Having not played since 2019, Australia will likely go into the tournament with plenty of new faces, including the likes of Harry Grant, Hudson Young and Joseph Suaalii.