Cherry-Evans hails form of Stewart - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cherry-Evans hails form of Stewart

Ian McCullough 12/06/2011 03:39:36 PM Comments (0)

His coach may not think he's ready to return to State Of Origin action, but Manly halfback Daly Cherry-Evans believes Brett Stewart is almost back to his best.

After spending the best part of two seasons battling knee problems, Stewart has struggled to stay fit this year due to issues with his hamstrings.

But after running in two tries in Saturday's 24-4 win over North Queensland, and showing glimpses of the form that first earned him NSW selection in 2007, Stewart took his tally of tries at Brookvale Oval to a remarkable 57 in 58 games.

Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler revealed last week that he cautioned Blues coach Ricky Stuart against selecting Stewart as a replacement for the injured Josh Dugan, but Cherry-Evans believes the form of the 26-year-old has been a big factor in the side's recent good form.

"Snake (Stewart) is playing great footy at the moment, it is great credit to him considering everything he has been through, he showed tonight what a great athlete he is by putting a few more tries on," Cherry-Evans said.

"He's an extra set of eyes and a mouth out there for us, he gives good direction behind the ruck and instinctively he just knows where to put players and we have really benefited from having him in the side regularly as our results have shown.

"He is a great talker on the field and makes a lot of noise and that has been invaluable for me."

Manly officials refused to allow Stewart to talk to the media after their fifth successive win, that took them to second spot on the ladder and just a point behind leaders St George Illawarra.

However, Hasler said he was pleased with the steady progress of his custodian and backed the decision to select Sydney Roosters fullback Anthony Minichiello for Wednesday's second Origin clash.

"I think the choice of Minichiello is a smart one," Hasler said.

"I think Snake is getting back to where he was, to what he is, it'll be a few more games and he'll be well and truly back to that capability where he's able to create opportunities out of nothing."

Sea Eagles skipper Jason King said Stewart's good form on the field was down to his ability to train pain-free regularly.

"It's been a real plus having him again," King said.

"He's training really hard, has plenty of enthusiasm on the field and it's great to see him put in really class performances.

"From the players' perspective it's fantastic to have him fit and healthy and back on the field playing well."

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