The Manly Sea Eagles have opened negotiations to extend the contract of rookie of the year contender Daly Cherry-Evans.

The Queensland product is signed until the end of next season, but Manly coach Des Hasler has indicated his intention to secure Cherry-Evans long-term. With five-eighth Kieran Foran, the Sea Eagles have developed a halves combination capable of directing the team for at least the next five seasons.

Foran is under contract until the end of 2014.

Manly are unlikely to let a second rookie halfback be poached by a rival after losing Trent Hodkinson to the Bulldogs last year.

Manly recruitment guru Noel Cleal confirmed the Sea Eagles targeted halfback as a position they needed to strengthen as part of the club’s strategic plan before winning the 2008 premiership.

Cherry-Evans had come through the same system as Hodkinson, playing Toyota Cup and then Queensland Cup for the Sunshine Coast last season before advancing to NRL level.

In terms of performances this season, Cherry-Evans has moved ahead of Hodkinson as the resurgent Sea Eagles prepare to mount a serious finals assault.

Read more at the Herald Sun