FORMER Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles coach Brandon Costin believes Daly Cherry-Evans made a crucial decision to shun his "selfish" ways and emerge as a true team player while at the Intrust Super Cup club last year.
The 22-year-old was yesterday named in the Australian squad for the upcoming Four Nations tournament, just a day after steering Manly to a coveted NRL premiership.
And according to Sunshine Coast officials, it was the improvements Cherry-Evans made while at the Bokarina-based club in 2010 which paved the way for his impressive maiden NRL campaign in 2011. "I think he was able to learn what was required from a good halfback playing in an open-age competition," Costin said.
"There were some rocky times early in 2010 when we were losing games that we should have won or we were losing tight games on the bell because our halfback wasn't playing a team game - he was playing a bit too individual.
"He was definitely a selfish player. We would have run-ins and I said to him 'that's you playing, that's not you playing to structure, that's not you playing to the game plan."
"Cherry and I sat down and came to an agreement on how he could utilise his talents but also play to the benefit of the team. "I think he was able develop a team style of game.
"He was able to learn that in Queensland Cup and obviously made that transition to the NRL."
Sunshine Coast CEO Justin Veivers reckons Cherry-Evans changed his style of play when he was assigned the captaincy at the Sunshine Coast last season.
"At the start of the year he was young and raw and had a kit bag full of tricks and he would pull them out all the time but once he got the responsibility of captain that's when he started to impress us," he said.
"I think his (biggest improvement was the) ability to play for the team and not himself, particularly after we made him captain.
"He grew another foot and played for the team, instead of going for the miracle play all the time."
Veivers and Costin lauded Manly for its mentoring of Cherry-Evans, who was contracted to the NRL club last year but forced to bide his time with its then feeder club at the Sunshine Coast.
"You have to take your hat off to Manly and suggest they knew what they were doing.
"They probably realised he wasn't ready last year and needed 12 months of playing open-age footy and he came on this year and didn't miss a beat," Veivers said.
Recruited by Dennis Moore and Noel Cleal for Manly in 2008, Cherry-Evans played Toyota Cup under-20s for the Brookvale club before being sent north to play for the Sunshine Coast each weekend last year, developing his skills in the state league.
Evans and his Manly team-mates were yesterday busy celebrating their 24-10 triumph over the New Zealand Warriors but he spoke to the Sunshine Coast Daily during the finals campaign, admitting "I've got no doubt that playing (for the Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles) last year gave me the building blocks for this year."