As injured Newtown halfback and captain Daniel Mortimer limped from field in his side’s Round 2 loss to Mounties, hooker-turn-half Manaia Cherrington was very quickly thrown into the deep end.
Playing the second period of last weekend’s clash in the halves – having never done so before –Cherrington will this weekend revert to his favoured role at ‘9’, when lining up against Illawarra at WIN Stadium.
“I struggled there, I haven’t really played half, ever,” Cherrington tells NSWRL.com.au
“But me, I’ll just do what’s best for the team.
“If that means playing at 9, 7, or off the bench, I’m just happy to do a role that’s best for the coach and for my teammates.”
Cherrington’s unforeseen switch to the halves came as a big surprise – not least to himself – having spent the better part of the past six months learning the crafts of the hooking role from 2016 NRL Premiership-winning rake, Michael Ennis.
“He’s been great not only for me but all of the young hookers there at Cronulla,” Cherrington says.
“Having him around the club, it brings a boost to a lot the boys and the team, his experience is invaluable and when he talks, you listen.
“Me and Brails (Jayden Brailey), along with Nu Brown, work pretty closely down there with Mick. It’s up to me to put a bit of pressure on the both of them looking for that NRL start.”
No knock on Cherrington’s ability, the depleted Jets failed to trouble a rampant Mounties outfit at Aubrey Keech, though the 22-year-old says his side will need to show more mental toughness in similar circumstances so should they eventuate throughout the 2017 season.
“We’ve just got to be more resilient, I think. Being two men down with injury, it should have lifted the team,” Cherrington says.
“’Then again, we can’t look at that as an excuse. We played well in patches, but we have to get better.
“It wasn’t the performance we were after, lucky for us it’s only early days.”