Just how did Daly Cherry-Evans find himself snubbed for State of Origin III? It's a question that wasn't just asked around Queensland on Monday but at Manly, too, and the feedback wasn't pretty.
"It's on the coaching staff and the selectors' heads," said Sea Eagles board member Cliff Lyons, a not too shabby Origin and Test half in his own day who believes the omission of the in-form Manly No.7 could backfire spectacularly against NSW in Brisbane on Wednesday week.
As far as head-scratching selections go, this is on the top shelf. Cherry-Evans, with a Queensland and Australian CV and having superbly piloted Manly to five successive wins, appeared the obvious replacement for injured champion Johnathan Thurston for the series-deciding clash. At worst, a place on the bench seemed assured.
By leaving him out completely and favouring for the bench the debutant Ben Hunt – just back from a demotion to the state league – Kevin Walters and Maroons selectors have taken a huge gamble, one that may well put their necks on the line at Suncorp Stadium next week.
Hunt's Brisbane Broncos have won only three of nine games this season when he's started the game, and four of 10 overall when he's played at all.
The Broncos are 7-0 without him at halfback.
NSW, entering the final match of the series with uncertainty around the make-up of their line-up due to injury concerns, could hardly have hoped for a greater selection-day gift as they head off to their pre-game camp in Kingscliff.
Despite Maroons coach Walters' insistence on Monday that there were no personality issues with Cherry-Evans non-inclusion – that was "hogwash", he said – the playmaker's frankly weird snubbing only raised more questions, among their own no less, about how he fits in with Queensland colleagues.
"There's probably only no other way to read it than the chemistry of the side and what Daly Cherry-Evans brings to the team just doesn't match up," Billy Moore said on ABC Radio on Monday, "because you could not think of Daly Cherry-Evans playing any better than he has in the last month."
At Manly's Narrabeen base the obvious and immediate response was the old adage that Queensland's loss was their gain, with Cherry-Evans sure to be out to prove a point as the Sea Eagles chase yet another victory against Penrith at Pepper Stadium on Saturday.
That was as far as the diplomacy extended, however, from the northern beaches.
You would expect a club to fall in behind its own but this cut particularly deep, Sea Eagles officials knowing how badly Cherry-Evans, 28, wanted to reignite his rep career two years after the last of his sixth Origin appearances. They were particularly miffed given that Queensland selector Darren Lockyer had in a weekend column challenged Cherry-Evans to demand a place in the side with a man-of-the-match performance against the Warriors and he had duly led the Sea Eagles to a come-from-behind victory.
"He'll be devastated," Lyons said. "I'm bamboozled myself. I thought he'd be the first picked. He's in good form, so why not pick him? It's very strange.
"I know he had a few dramas when he signed with the Gold Coast (Titans in 2015) and then ended up staying at Manly but he's showing now in is football that the best decision was to stay here.
"In the form he's in, he'll be saying 'what do I have to do get picked?'"
Cherry-Evans will now have to wait until next year to have that question answered.