Cherry-Evans beaming after Slater praise

Vince Rugari
Daly Cherry-Evans is stoked to be praised by Queensland retiring Origin great Billy Slater

A chuffed Daly Cherry-Evans has lapped up praise from retiring Queensland great Billy Slater, who has anointed him as the state's next long-term halfback.

Cherry-Evans made a stunning return to the State of Origin arena on Wednesday night, scoring the match-winning try as he steered the Maroons to a 18-12 game three victory.

Not only did it restore Queensland's pride after losing the series to NSW, it also restored his own reputation in the eyes of many fans.

Slater paid a glowing tribute to the oft-maligned playmaker, who was at the heart of all the team's best attacking moves.

"He led us around all week," Slater said.

"He learned the game plan, in his spare time he came up to a few of us and worked on our combinations. He wanted to understand the plays.

"I think that No.7 jersey is his for a long time to come."

Cherry-Evans could not wipe the smile off his face when told of Slater's compliments.

"They're really special comments and I certainly have aspirations to be here long term," he said.

"I threw all my eggs into this basket.

"Obviously I'm aware of what's ahead for Queensland and the opportunity for the No.7 jersey but I couldn't be silly enough to look too far ahead.

"I've been away for a long time and I just really wanted to enjoy tonight."

The Manly skipper said he never doubted in his ability to make an impact at Origin level during his three-year exile from the team.

"I came into this game very prepared," he said.

"I had a lot of people in my corner, and I've grown a lot since the last time I was here.

"I was really confident I was going to be able to do my job tonight and it certainly wasn't just all me - I was one of 17 players out there that (each) did a fantastic job in a Queensland jersey."

Cherry-Evans was booed by parts of the crowd when his face flashed up on the big screen before the match.

But every pass, kick and run from the 29-year-old slowly helped to win those same fans over, and by full-time his Maroons redemption story was complete.

"Walking back after scoring a try for Queensland, I got a pretty cool reception at the back end of the field there," he said.

"(It) reminded me how special Origin is and how lucky I am to be a part of it."