MAKE Daly Cherry-Evans the Queensland halfback for this year's Origin series.
That is the opinion of former Queensland centre Chris Walker, with the Maroons' team for Game I in Sydney on May 27 to be named next week.
Walker's wish appears unlikely, with Storm and Australia halfback Cooper Cronk, 31, set to wear the No.7 for Queensland, with Cherry-Evans once again favoured to play a bench utility role.
But Cherry-Evans' form has been outstanding in wins for Manly over the past two rounds, outpointing Cronk with two try assists in the Sea Eagles' 12-10 over Melbourne in round eight.
The 26-year-old then controlled the game in Manly's 30-10 thrashing over Newcastle last Sunday - enough to convince Walker his time to wear the Queensland halfback jersey has now arrived.
"I know Cooper Cronk is a fantastic player, but I'd like to see young guys like that (Cherry-Evans) brought in now, to help set up for the future," Walker told APN.
"He's a fantastic player. He went through a lot at the start of the year with contract stuff and you could see it weighed pretty heavily on him.
"But I think he's a world-class player and you can't knock a world-class player because they keep on bouncing back."
Walker was also adamant the Maroons would get back to their winning ways this year, after New South Wales broke their record eight-series streak last year.
"We'll win. We'll win the series. And that's not being cocky," Walker said.
"I just love Queensland and Mal (Maroons coach Mal Meninga) has got a fantastic system with young guys like Anthony Milford coming in. He wouldn't look out of place in a Queensland jersey."
However, Walker refused to say the Blues were in disarray, with injuries (captain Paul Gallen - hip/gluteal and Brett Morris - hamstring), suspension (Greg Bird to miss the entire series) and form (last year's halves Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds) affecting a number of key players.
"No, definitely not. It's Origin football. No matter who they pick, they'll do a job for New South Wales, just like the Queenslanders will," Walker said.
Walker said the Blues would do themselves no harm in recalling Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce for this year's series.
"Mitchell Pearce is playing good football. People say he struggles in Origin, but you've got to look at Queensland the past eight years when he's been playing," Walker said.
"It wouldn't have mattered who they had.
"I think they should pick him."
Meanwhile, Walker said he was still felt fit and fresh at 35.
He is playing for the Ipswich Jets in the Intrust Super Cup with ambitions of wearing the Broncos jersey once more, and reuniting with master coach Wayne Bennett.
"It (playing for the Jets) is very enjoyable, and I might go around again next year," he said.
"Age is an attitude.
"I'm a realist - I'm 35. I'd love to do it (play for the Broncos again), but I'm enjoying my footy playing with the Jets."