NRL legend Andrew Johns has claimed Manly and Maroons halfback Daly Cherry-Evans should keep is spot at the Kangaroos No.7, despite Nathan Cleary's from in the NRL.
Cherry-Evans is the incumbent halfback for Australia, but the Kangaroos haven't played a game since 2019.
However, since the last international game, voices have been growing to hand Cleary the jersey for the upcoming World Cup in England due to his form.
The 24-year-old led Penrith to an NRL premiership and is two games away from repeating the feat.
While Cherry-Evans wasn't able to lead Manly to the finals after a tumultuous back half of the season, he outplayed NSW rival Cleary in Queensland's State of Origin series win.
And Johns thinks the Manly No.7 deserves the right to hold onto his spot after performing in the State of Origin cauldron.
“I think Daly Cherry-Evans deserves to be the halfback after his Origin series,” Johns said to Nine Wide World of Sport.
“Before Origin I thought Nathan would be, but if you’re looking at Origin in particular... I think Daly deserves to be halfback and captain.
“Daly is the incumbent, we haven’t played for a couple of years. I think he deserves first shot at it, and captain.”
Johns admitted that Cleary will probably steer Penrith to their second straight NRL Grand Final and possibly win the Clive Churchill medal.
But, said the 'impossible' decision could be made by Mal Meninga and the selectors due to Cherry-Evans' State of Origin brilliance.
NSW coach Brad Fittler disagreed and said Cleary was more 'consistent' in the role.
Fittler also said both halfbacks will be picked to Tour England for the World Cup.
Nathan Cleary stars in finals return
Nathan Cleary returned from suspension to put in arguably the best performance of his season, with Parramatta coach Brad Arthur conceding the Penrith half had kicked his team "to death".
Off the back of a five-week ban, Cleary's clinic served as a serious warning shot to the rest of the competition with Penrith well on track to defend their title.
And if the Panthers do qualify for a third straight grand final, Cleary could easily see Parramatta as their opponents on October 2.
"I think there's definitely a chance," Cleary said.
"You look at the last three weeks before this and how well they were playing.
"They were playing well (on Friday night) too. So I think there's a big chance.
"The finals series this year is so wide open. Anything can happen, so it wouldn't surprise me (if Parramatta recovered to make the grand final)."
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