Nathan Cleary nod sparks NRL great's brutal call on Daly Cherry-Evans

Nathan Cleary (pictured) waves his finger after winning the NRL grand final.
Nathan Cleary (pictured) is set to debut as halfback for Australia in the World Cup game against Scotland. (Getty Images)

NRL great Braith Anasta has predicted Maroons halfback Daly Cherry-Evans may have started his last game for the Kangaroos after Mal Meninga picked Nathan Cleary for the Scotland clash.

Cleary has been the standout halfback across the last three seasons of NRL and is locked in a battle with incumbent Daly Cherry-Evans for the starting berth.

'MADNESS': Kangaroos dragged into 'abysmal' World Cup farce as fans rage

'CHAMPION': NRL great James Graham's emotional moment with junior club

The 24-year-old Penrith playmaker will debut alongside his Panthers teammates Isaah Yeo and Liam Martin as well as Campbell Graham, Lindsay Collins and Matt Burton against Scotland on Saturday morning (AEST).

The Penrith crew join the Kangaroos after being given more time to recover after winning the NRL Grand Final only a couple of weeks ago.

And in the first game against Fiji, despite a dominant win, Cherry-Evans didn't put in his best performance.

The Manly captain showed signs of rust, preferring to keep things simple against Fiji as five-eighth and man-of-the-match Cam Munster worked his magic.

Munster enjoyed reuniting with his Queensland State of Origin halves partner but says he feels for Mal Meninga as the Kangaroos coach nears a decision on his first-choice halfback.

And on Fox Sports' NRL 360, Maroons great Parker questioned whether Cherry-Evans could wrestle back the halfback spot from Cleary.

“It will be interesting to see… let’s assume Australia go on and play well, and Cleary stars as he normally does, will DCE play again?” he asked.

Nathan Cleary (pictured) speaks after winning the 2022 NRL Grand Final.
Nathan Cleary (pictured) could be set to take over the No.7 jersey for Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images) (Cameron Spencer via Getty Images)

Greg Alexander claimed that it was inevitable for Cleary to eventually take over the No.7 jersey considering Cherry-Evans' age.

However, Braith Anasta went one step further.

The former half said if Australia perform against Scotland it probably means Cleary will cement his spot as the premier halfback this tour.

“If that happens they just stick, right?" he said.

"It’s Cleary and (Cameron) Munster all the way through you would think. So it could be that DCE has played his last game,” Anasta said.

Nathan Cleary praises Cameron Munster

NRL fans are excited at Meninga's tantalising to combine Cleary with Melbourne's Munster.

This puts together the reigning Dally M five-eighth of the year and the premiership winning halfback.

It also combines two players who share a fierce on-field rivaly at club and Origin level.

"I'm in awe of what he can do on the footy field," Cleary said.

"So being able to try and team up with him and unlock that ability is something I look forward to.

"I think we're pretty competitive so it just naturally comes on the field that's what makes it cooler.

"We have a mutual respect for each other that we're both going to compete and play hard."

With the exception of captain James Tedesco, Meninga is expected to bank on a Queensland-heavy spine comprising a hooking rotation of Ben Hunt and Harry Grant along with Munster as the tournament progresses.

with AAP

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.