Trbojevic goes behind enemy lines to congratulate DCE

Jake Trbojevic can't remember if he tackled Daly Cherry-Evans in last year's final Holden State of Origin game at Suncorp Stadium.

It was Cherry-Evans' first game in three years after he was recalled to take the No.7 reins from Ben Hunt.

But Trbojevic won't be shy in tackling his Manly Sea Eagles teammate this time around at Suncorp, even if he does have the 'c' against his name.

"No way. But he's very fast. I'll just be trying to get a hold of him," Trbojevic told NRL.com.

But the NSW Blues lock has so much respect for Cherry-Evans that he crossed enemy lines and sent his Manly teammate a congratulations text after hearing he had been made Queensland captain.

"To lead your state is a massive, massive honour," he said.

"I see all the extras he does each week, how mentally strong he is, that sort of thing.

"He's had some setbacks, but he's so mentally strong that that sort of stuff doesn't get under his skin or worry him. He just works harder and he comes out on top."

Cherry-Evans' club stats are 3-3 when he's captained Manly this season. But Trbojevic is 3-2 in his five games as stand-in skipper, while DCE nursed a syndesmosis injury.

"I'm not going too bad eh?" Trbojevic said.

"Obviously he's a great mate of mine and a great competitor. It's great to see him made Queensland captain. He's worked extremely hard.

"You've got to do your best for your state. He'll try and smash me and I'll try and smash him. That's just the way it is."

It doesn't diminish Trbojevic's admiration for Cherry-Evans though.

"What I like about him is that he is such a great competitor. He's got all the skills in the world, and that sort of thing, but it's the way he trains," he said.

"He's really fit and gives a lot of push, a lot of energy at training. He's a great leader like that. He knows when to kick and when to pass."

It's a slightly different 2019 Origin camp so far for Trbojevic without his younger brother Tom, who is recovering from a hamstring injury suffered in round four.

"It is sad obviously. But he hasn't played for a while so that meant he wasn't going to get selected. So no guarantees," Jake said when asked if Tom had a chance to make it back for Game II (June 22) or Game III (July 10).

"He's not even thinking about that but he is training really hard at Manly and looking pretty good.

"I reckon he's only a few weeks away. But he wants to get back for Manly first and play some good footy.

"I'd love to have him here in the Blues camp but I've got lots of mates here, so I won't miss him all that much."

Trbojevic played his sixth game for NSW last year, but it was the first time he started. This year he will be wearing the No.13 and starting.

"It doesn't worry me honestly. I just want to be in the team," he said.

"I couldn’t care less if I start or come off the bench. I'll play anywhere and I'd even play for just five minutes.

"I just love being in this team so whatever they want from me, I'll do my best."

That instruction would most likely be: perform like you do for Manly each week. Trbojevic has played all 11 games this season and is averaging 137 metres and 41 tackles per game. He has made 457 tackles this season and missed just 10.

He's also got three try assists and scored a try himself.

 

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