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Queensland skipper Daly Cherry-Evans

Maroons coach Kevin Walters says the belief within his players that they can wrap up the Holden State of Origin series in Perth has gone to another level in the past week and credits captain Daly-Cherry-Evans for inspiring it.

Walters spoke at Optus Stadium prior to the Maroons' captain's run and was in a buoyant mood. The word "belief" is never far from Walters' lips these days and it was front-and-centre again on Saturday morning. 

"We've had a great week's preparation. Certainly a few things we had to work on and improve on. We have done that. The belief in this team is something else, it has gone to a new level this week," Walters said.

"The trust, everything, they have come together beautifully again. We've had a couple of new players [Jarrod Wallace and Tim Glasby] come into the side but they have welded on to what is a great Queensland team and we are looking forward to the challenge of tomorrow night.

"I am excited more than nervous about the occasion. I get excited for every State of Origin. Since I was 13 years-old to now, every game is no different. Origin is the pinnacle of our game. I love Queensland and I am very passionate about Queensland."

Kevvie: The belief in this team is something else

The bravery of Cherry-Evans playing so well in Origin I just five weeks after ankle surgery has been mentioned this week by the players as an inspirational act. It also enhanced his own leadership credentials. The Manly captain’s calmness and air of confidence has had a ripple effect through the entire squad.

"He's been instrumental in everything that he has done for the side. He was particularly inspirational in Game One coming back from the injury after five weeks out," Walters said.

"He's the perfect captain for this group to bring them together…very articulate, very smart and best of all he's a great footballer. We haven't seen the best of him at this level yet, we will see that on Sunday."

The Maroons have focussed on starting Sunday's clash with more clout up front after falling behind 8-0 in Game One due to the dominance largely of NSW prop David Klemmer.

Dylan Napa, carrying a broken hand, will start alongside Josh Papalii in the front-row with Josh McGuire at lock. Those three middle forwards have a big assignment in the initial stages of the game.

"We certainly want to start better. That's been the focus for us this week, getting out of the blocks a lot better," Walters said.

"We did start OK [in Game One] but that's an area we need to improve on. We need to get our starts right and we will do that tomorrow night.

DCE ready to realise boyhood dream

"Dylan doesn't run on his hands so he will be fine. Once the adrenaline starts pumping through him we will see Dylan's best performance at Origin level.

"I'm looking forward to seeing Dylan Napa having his first start in a while at this level and also Josh Papalii has been in good touch as well as Josh McGuire."

The Maroons also believe there is a lot more improvement in the combination of Kalyn Ponga, Cameron Munster, Daly Cherry-Evans and Ben Hunt.

While all four played well in Game One it is the way they gel as a unit that Walters has worked closely on this week with his coaching staff.

"That is one of the things that we spoke about - with Munster, Hunt, Ponga and DCE - that's an area that we will get better at," Walters said.

"That was just their first game together. A lot of our focus this week has been around those guys, making sure they get it right.

"Also a big chunk of the week, has been taken up on defence, how strong and aggressive we are going to be there. We worked on plenty of areas. Now it is up to the players to execute that, which they will tomorrow night."


Acknowledgement of Country

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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