Manly dishes up sweet deal with Cherry on top
MANLY produced an unbeatable ace at the 11th hour to retain halfback Daly Cherry-Evans, offering him a contract for as long as he continued playing in the NRL.
Cherry-Evans telephoned a gutted Titans coach Neil Henry three hours before what Manly chairman Joe Kelly described as an "historic announcement" at a special media conference at the Sea Eagles club.
"I am sincerely sorry for the Gold Coast club and I hope they understood this is a decision made for me and my family," Cherry-Evans told a packed press conference.
"People have a right to be angry, but I know that is something I can live with knowing I have done the best for myself and my family.
"I played well within the rules. I haven't broken any rules and I am comfortable how I have played within those rules."
Cherry-Evans, who looked composed and confident despite coming under attack from certain quarters, admitted he had played the (contract) game and left the door open to see what offer Manly would put on the table.
"My decision only changed within the last 48 hours," he said
"The actions I have taken over the last 48 hours don't look very honourable, but I am comfortable with the reasons. I made them for the future of my family."
Manly defended its late counter offer to Cherry-Evans, saying it was also negotiating to try to keep star five-eighth Kieran Foran at the club.
The decision by Cherry-Evans to stay at Brookvale was met with a vicious reaction on social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter, with the 26-year-old from Redcliffe branded greedy, selfish and a mercenary.
The playmaker may have given fans even more reason to hate Manly, but he is not the first talented rugby league player to back out of a contract commitment.
Brisbane offered its champion halfback Allan Langer a lifetime contract during his 258-game career with the Broncos.
Earlier this year the Mata'utia brothers, Sione, Chanel and Pat, all signed a heads of agreement document to play for the Bulldogs from 2016, before doing a backflip on the four-year deal.
Five years ago Brisbane thought it had a water-tight deal with the game's No.1 player Greg Inglis, worth $1 million a season.
Inglis gave his word and shook hands with football manager Andrew Gee, but after returning to Sydney and speaking with some friends, contacted the Broncos a few days later to inform them the deal was off.
Prompted by the uncertainty and constant "will he or won't he" speculation since Cherry-Evans announced in March this year he was going to the Titans, the NRL changed its rules on Tuesday, with players who sign with rival clubs now given a 10-day cooling off period to change their mind.