PNG clash a key focus for Cherry-Evans

Daly Cherry-Evans says he can't afford to look any further than the upcoming clash with Papua New Guinea in his bid to become Kangaroos half-back.

Cherry-Evans has been named at half and captain of the Australian Prime Minister's XIII team for the annual clash with PNG at Port Moresby on Saturday, October 6. It will be his first PM's XIII jersey.

Manly centre Brian Kelly and lock Jake Trbojevic have also been named in the team with Cherry-Evans. It will be Trbojevic's fourth PM's XIII jersey and Kelly's first.

The dominant display by Cherry-Evans for Queensland in the third Origin game in July, combined with his strong performances for Manly, saw the experienced half-back named in Coach Mal Meninga's team.

Meninga will use the PM's XIII match as a key selection hit-out ahead of next month's Tests against New Zealand and Tonga in Auckland. The number seven jersey is there for the taking following the retirement of Cooper Cronk from rep footy at the end of last year.

The last time Cherry-Evans represented Australia was on November 15, 2014, when he played five-eighth alongside Cronk in the Kangaroos' 22-18 loss to New Zealand in Wellington in the Four Nations tournament under former coach Tim Sheens.

Cherry-Evans, who has played just one game as the starting half-back in his 11 Tests for Australia, said the focus was firmly on PNG.

"I can't look too far in advance. Making the PM's side is the first step in gaining selection for the two Tests against NZ and Tonga,'' Cherry-Evans told seaeagles.com.au

"I certainly understand that I am not far away from getting back in the Test squad but it would be foolish for me to look any further ahead than this game.

"I'm looking forward to just preparing well all week, enjoying the great experience of going to PNG, and hopefully putting my best foot forward for future selections of the Tests coming up."

Cherry-Evans said he was honoured to represent his country again, especially as captain of the PM's XIII team.

"Just getting back into a green and gold jersey is something I have been really focused on for the last 12 to 18 months,'' Cherry-Evans said.

It is a really nice reward and I’m very privileged to be back in it.

Daly Cherry-Evans

"Having that lay off of three years without any representative footy certainly made me understand how lucky you are each time you get to play in any of those games.

"Getting back into Origin was the first step and something that I absolutely loved.

"I knew straight away after that there was a hunger for representative footy and, in particular, an Australian jersey was at the top of the list.

"There is always plenty of ups and down in rugby league but with that, there is the great opportunity to play rep footy, so I am super happy to be back."

Cherry-Evans said he was also pleased to be working under Meninga again, the last time being in game two of the 2015 Origin series.

"Mal gave me my rep start for Queensland. I know first-hand how good he is at coaching rep sides,'' Cherry-Evans said.

"You only have to look at the impact he has had on the Australian team over the last two years. It has been a pretty special effort from Mal to get the team together and playing so well.

"I'm looking forward to reuniting with Mal. Hopefully, he can see my development as a player since the last time we were together in camp."