Corey Oates enjoyed his return to the backrow – and wants to make it a permanent switch.
Corey Oates enjoyed his return to the backrow – and wants to make it a permanent switch.

Oates wants to say goodbye to the wing – forever

Corey Oates is eyeing a permanent move to the back-row with the Queensland Origin star admitting the Broncos' bevy of backline young guns could signal the end of his career as a winger.

The Courier-Mail can reveal Oates is considering a full-time shift from the backs to the forwards, claiming he can be more effective for the Broncos as a rangy back-rower than a battering ram on kick returns on Brisbane's left wing.

With Brisbane's forward pack decimated by injuries and suspensions, coach Anthony Seibold rolled the dice, pitchforking Oates into the starting back-row in last week's 20-18 loss to Manly.

 

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Despite fears Oates would blow out in the opening quarter, he punched out 63 minutes, making 29 tackles with just one miss and eight runs for 49 metres in a promising maiden hitout.

The return of back-rowers Alex Glenn and Tevita Pangai Jr has seen Oates return to the wing for Thursday night's clash against Newcastle, but the 25-year-old revealed his plan to join Brisbane's forward pack.

"I can see myself in the forwards," Oates said.

"It's up to the coach at the end of the day, but if 'Seibs' wants me in the back-row full-time, I'm up to that.

"If that's the way the Broncos want to go with things, I certainly won't knock it back.

Xavier Coates, rising high for the ball against Manly, is a special talent. Picture: Getty
Xavier Coates, rising high for the ball against Manly, is a special talent. Picture: Getty

"With the talent the Broncos have got, guys like Xavier Coates and Herbie Farnworth, you have to look at where I am best suited to the team and that might be in the forwards.

"I still think I have something to offer on the wing. I'm not saying these young kids bring any more to the position than I do, but I did come through as a back-rower and I enjoyed being back there last week.

"I honestly have no idea where I stand moving forward. With Tevita and 'Lexi' (Glenn) coming back, I will probably go back to the wing this week, but I'd love to have another crack at the back row again."

 

The 105kg Oates has been Brisbane's premier winger for the past five years, having scored 92 tries in 147 games since his NRL debut in 2013.

It is a testament to his finishing ability that Oates is the greatest tryscorer at Suncorp Stadium, having eclipsed the likes of Karmichael Hunt, Justin Hodges and Darren Lockyer.

But with Farnworth, Coates, Jamayne Isaako, Tesi Niu, Jack Bird and Jesse Arthars vying for wing or fullback positions, Oates is keen to test himself regularly in the back-row position in which he was graded.

"I would have been $1.10 with most people to blow out after 15 minutes last week but I lasted longer than even I expected," Oates said.

"I wasn't sure how I would go in the back row but I felt better than what I thought.

Corey Oates (R) talks with coach Anthony Seibold and captain Alex Glenn. Photographer: Liam Kidston.
Corey Oates (R) talks with coach Anthony Seibold and captain Alex Glenn. Photographer: Liam Kidston.

"Xavier is going to be one hell of a weapon on the wing, he is a super talent.

"I have to back myself to play on the wing, but I do think the more I play in the back row, the more I will be able to bring to the team as I get fitter.

"I enjoy the physicality a lot more in the forwards. I like being involved all the time."

Oates has had 10 operations during his career but scoffed at suggestions his body can't handle the workload in the forwards.

"To be honest, I've had more surgeries playing on the wing than what I have in the back row," he said.

"If anything, I have found it harder to play on the wing than the back row. I am still learning how to play on the wing.

"I'm not a complicated sort of bloke. If I have to get from point A to point B, I will get there in the most direct way. If I am back in the back row, I will just run hard lines at the holes and force defenders to make a decision."

 

Tevita Pangai Junior has an aggressive streak - but needs to use it the right way. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Tevita Pangai Junior has an aggressive streak - but needs to use it the right way. Picture: Alix Sweeney

 

Seibold issues challenge to returning Pangai

Broncos coach Anthony Seibold has urged Tevita Pangai Jr to avoid another brain explosion in his return from suspension after derailing his NRL career with four bans in the past 14 months.

Dragons discard Issac Luke appeared at his first Broncos training session on Tuesday, but all eyes will be on Pangai Jr in Brisbane's round-six clash against Newcastle on Thursday night at Central Coast Stadium.

Having served a four-game ban, the Tongan torpedo has been catapulted into Brisbane's starting back-row for the Knights clash, but Seibold wants Pangai Jr to keep his cool in his return to the code.

Pangai Jr's reputation is on the line. Since the start of the 2019 season, he has been suspended for a total of 12 games, including a five-match ban for a crusher tackle on James Malony, one week for a high shot on Phillip Sami and a two-match stint for a late shot on Cooper Cronk.

The latest offence came in round one this year, when Pangai Jr was cited for dangerous contact on Cowboys rival Justin O'Neill, but Seibold is acutely aware of the Test star's value to the Broncos.

Tevita Pangai Junior (L) cuts an imposing figure at Broncos training. Picture: Getty
Tevita Pangai Junior (L) cuts an imposing figure at Broncos training. Picture: Getty

The Broncos have won only two of the 12 games Pangai Jr has missed for a woeful 16 per cent success rate and Seibold implored the 24-year-old to play with more maturity against the Knights.

"He has got an opportunity to go out there and help the team," Seibold said.

"Tevita started the season really well against the Cowboys but was really disappointed with his actions to get suspended.

"It is a balance because you don't want to take away what Tevita's strengths are, which is being aggressive and having plenty of intent on both sides of the footy.

"It is just about being a little bit smarter.

"The last two times that Tevita has got himself in trouble it was just probably a rush of blood on both occasions so he has got to be a little bit smarter there.

"We don't want Tevita to change how he plays the game. I like how he plays the game. He is aggressive and has got real intent. It is about learning and being a little bit smarter with some of his actions on the field."

The Broncos will welcome back skipper Alex Glenn. Picture: Getty
The Broncos will welcome back skipper Alex Glenn. Picture: Getty

The Broncos' back row will have a more formidable look with Pangai Jr to be joined in the back row by skipper Alex Glenn, who returns from a nasty calf gash suffered against the Eels in round three.

British rookie Herbie Farnworth will replace Kotoni Staggs (hamstring) at right centre, while Seibold will decide between Tesi Niu and new recruit Luke for the No.14 utility spot.

Luke has been named on Brisbane's extended bench, but the 33-year-old trained in the No.14 jumper on Tuesday and may yet be a late inclusion to support starting hooker Cory Paix.

"We think he will be a good addition," Seibold said. "We will name him in our 21 but he only arrived (on Monday) afternoon.

"We probably won't make a decision on our bench until after the captain's run (on Wednesday) because we need to see how Luke is and make sure we fill that centre position appropriately."

 

Originally published as Oates wants to say goodbye to the wing - forever



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