Key figure in Cherry Evans’ Origin revival
"FOOTBALL whisperer" Joe Wehbe has emerged as the man who has led Daly Cherry Evans back from the Origin wilderness.
Cherry Evans will pull on the Maroon jersey for the first time in more than three years on Wednesday after being named at halfback as Queensland axed Ben Hunt from the starting side following their series loss.
And while he believes his time in out of the representative arena has allowed him to grow as a player and a person, Wehbe has also emerged as a key figure in his revival.
A man who shuns the spotlight, Wehbe is often referred to as a "football whisperer", working his magic with some of the best in the league.
Mentor to a host of top players, he has worked with stars including James Tedesco, Aaron Woods and Mitchell Moses and is reportedly the man who encouraged Brisbane halves Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford to "trust the ball".
Cherry Evans rates him as a friend and confidant.
While his family and Manly coach Trent Barrett rate mentions as great supports during his time out of Origin, Wehbe's work has also helped him emerge stronger both mentally and physically.
"My coach Trent Barrett has certainly been great for me and my development as a football player in the last couple of years," Cherry Evans said.
"And I can't help but think that that's going to show on Wednesday night.
"And meeting someone like Joe Wehbe, he's someone that I've grown a relationship with over the last 18 months.
"He's certainly helped me with my footy and where my headspace is at going into games.
"He's a mentor and a friend now - someone I can call up at any time and get those words of wisdom from.
"He's certainly been a very influential person upon me and it's all been so positive and he's a great man to have around."
Not even Wehbe's influence though will make a difference to some Gold Coast fans, who still hold a grudge against the half for backflipping on his deal with the Titans in 2015.
Cherry Evans knows that wound may never heal.
But just as blood is thicker than water, Cherry Evans hopes state loyalties override club support and that all Queenslanders will be cheering him come Wednesday.
"Regardless of what's happened in the past, the reality is I've got an opportunity to play for Queensland and I'd like to think that everyone will put what's happened in the past (with the Titans) to bed for the bigger cause which is Queensland," he said.
"It's never ever going to change, that's happened and that will never be changed but what we've currently got is an opportunity to cheer for Queensland and be on the same page for once."