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NRL legend makes staggering call on Daly Cherry-Evans breaking Cameron Smith record

EXCLUSIVE: Cliffy Lyons has spoken out ahead of Cherry-Evans' milestone game.

Manly great Cliffy Lyons has backed Daly Cherry-Evans to play into his late 30s and challenge Cameron Smith's record of NRL games as another major milestone approaches. Cherry-Evans will pass Lyons' record of 309 games for Manly when he leads the Sea Eagles out against Penrith at 4 Pines Park on Saturday night.

In what is set to be an emotional occasion, Lyons will present DCE with his jersey prior to the game and is not ruling out further milestone celebrations. The Manly captain is the Benjamin Button of the NRL, improving with age and showing no signs of decline or wear and tear after recently turning 35.

Daly Cherry-Evans and Cameron Smith.
Daly Cherry-Evans has a chance to break Cameron Smith's NRL games record. Image: Getty

With another year to run on his current deal, Cherry-Evans could be sitting on close to 360 games by then and eyeing the magical 400-game barrier. Melbourne's Smith, with 430 matches, is the only player to top 400 NRL appearances.

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Lyons, who famously played until he was 37 during a storied 15-year career, has not ruled out the possibility of Cherry-Evans playing for another two or three years beyond his current deal. Asked if DCE could play into his late 30s, Lyons told Yahoo Sport Australia: "He probably takes better care of his body than I did so why not.

"He just keeps getting better with age and rarely misses a game. It's amazing considering he is also playing rep footy. I don’t see any reason why he couldn't at least go as long as I did and who knows from there. Records are meant to be broken and I'm happy it's someone like him breaking it."

Daly Cherry-Evans in action for Manly in the NRL.
Daly Cherry-Evans is showing no signs of slowing down. (Getty Images)

Daly Cherry-Evans among Manly's greatest NRL players

Asked where Cherry-Evans rated on the list of Manly greats, Lyons said: "He'd have to be right up there, not only statistics wise but for his consistency over a long period. I think we'd be able to find him a spot somewhere in the 17 (in Manly's greatest team of all time)."

Cherry-Evans said he felt "imposter syndrome" passing a player of Lyons' standing. "Of course it's crossed my mind that one day I might try and pass this record, but it hasn't been a priority," he said. "It feels weird to reflect like this because I feel like I'm not done yet or close to being done.

"Part of me feels imposter syndrome passing someone like Cliffy Lyons because of what he's done in the game (and) me not having done as much as him. But it's definitely a proud moment. When it all started I didn’t set out for something like this. I just played because of the love of the game. As I've kept playing, I've kept enjoying it and kept hanging around."