Supportive DCE key to Manly's form: Hasler

Manly's Daly Cherry-Evans has taken his game to the next level, says Souths coach Wayne Bennett.
Manly's Daly Cherry-Evans has taken his game to the next level, says Souths coach Wayne Bennett.

Manly coach Des Hasler says he's proud of the leader Daly Cherry-Evans has become as the halfback prepares for his first NRL preliminary final in eight seasons.

The Queensland and Sea Eagles captain has been a much maligned NRL star over his 11-year career but has helped lift Manly out of a drought into a long-awaited grand-final qualifier for the first time since 2013.

It's been a long road of development for Cherry-Evans but the 32-year-old is in the peak of his powers this season, going from a superstar in his own right to making his teammates better.

Fullback Tom Trbojevic has stolen the spotlight with his own individually remarkable form, but Cherry-Evans is more well-rounded than he's ever been.

It's evidenced by not only his career-best 27 try-assists this season, but his stability and leadership to get Manly within one win of an unlikely grand final after a 0-4 start.

"There's no doubt about the credentials of what Cherry's done and he's proven, and he's been tested... he's one of the top players and top leaders in the game," Hasler said ahead of Friday night's grand-final qualifier against South Sydney.

"It's been a real focus for him and you can just see how much he's grown and the work he does there and the way he goes about providing that support base for the players and teammates around him.

"Sometimes one of the hardest things in leadership is you have to be able to share yourself as much as you do concentrating on your individual game.

"He does it so well. He does an outstanding job.

"I'm pretty impressed and proud of his efforts."

It's a progression South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett has seen up close too.

The pair worked as coach and captain to inspire the 2020 Maroons to their remarkable State of Origin series win.

"I enjoyed coaching (Cherry-Evans), he's a great guy and very mature and he was captain of Queensland, and you don't get that if you haven't got that leadership ability," Bennett said on Thursday.

"He's played good football this year, he's always been a good footballer but he's probably gone to that next level to get more players around him playing better as well."

Meanwhile, centre Brad Parker has been ruled out of the game with a hand injury after failing to get through a fitness test on Thursday.

It comes less than 12 hours after Hasler confirmed to media he would be fit to play.

Moses Suli has been added to the squad in his place.

Australian Associated Press