Barba’s mate proves a cut above

Foes on the field, friends off it: Manly’s Daly Cherry-Evans has played a helping hand in the recovery of Canterbury’s Ben Barba. Photo: Anthony JohnsonDaly Cherry-Evans knows as well as just about anyone the depths from which Ben Barba has lifted himself to restore himself as a top-shelf player in the NRL.

Very close friends since their childhood in Mackay, the Manly halfback was a key supporter of the Canterbury fullback during the emotional turmoil that saw him stood down by the Bulldogs and check himself into rehabilitation for alcohol, gambling and family problems.

They remain in regular contact, even in the week in which Barba will attempt to dazzle the Sea Eagles at a sold-out Brookvale Oval.

On the mid-week evening visits the Dally M player of last year still makes on occasion to a health clinic on the northern beaches he invariably stops beforehand at the home of Cherry-Evans, who lives nearby with his partner and baby daughter.

Barba scored two tries against North Queensland last weekend – and looms as a major threat again in Friday’s much-anticipated affair – but the 24-year-old Manly No.7 is just happy to see him back with a smile on his face.

”He obviously had things in his life that he needed to address and he’s addressed them well and it’s just a credit to him the way he has bounced back and is playing such good footy now,” Cherry-Evans said.

”I think footy was one of the least concerns for him then in his life. For him to worry about footy and worry about returning I don’t think that would have played a part in his mind.”

Cherry-Evans admitted it was difficult to watch his good mate endure such a torturous period in his personal life. He is not one to want to discuss or even concede the important role he played as a friend in Barba’s recovery.

But others privately say Cherry-Evans’ support, and the fact he lives very close to the clinic Barba was living in, was key in helping Barba get his life back on track.

”We were in contact the whole time. We even caught up [on Monday night],” he said. ”I think it was hard for everyone involved. Whether you’re friends or family you don’t like to see someone down and out like that. Once again it sums up the character he is to bounce back and not only gets his footy back on track but his life back on track. It’s good to see.

”On and off the field Ben has changed a few things and it’s paying big rewards for him at the moment. he’s scoring a few tries and he’s heavily involved in his team’s wins lately. He’s certainly in a happy place on and off the field.”

That said, Cherry-Evans could do without Barba repeating his try tally from Canterbury’s win over the Cowboys on Friday against Manly, particularly given the Sea Eagles’ determination to atone for a 18-16 defeat to the Warriors on Sunday.

”Coming off a loss, we need to focus on ourselves and get that right and play our best footy,” Cherry-Evans said.

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The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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