NRL 2022: Corey Oates keen to show off Origin credentials in Manly showdown
After a three-year exile, Corey Oates has surged back into Origin contention on the back of the Broncos revival and says he won’t let Queensland down if picked.
Corey Oates has appealed for Queensland coach Billy Slater to resurrect his Origin career as the rejuvenated Broncos winger looks to end his three-year exile from the Maroons.
Slater will attend the Broncos-Manly showdown on Friday night with his Origin selection radar switched on and Oates can press his claims for a Maroons recall with a bumper display in the Magic Round clash at Suncorp Stadium.
Oates played the last of his eight Origin games for Queensland in 2019, when he was a member of the Maroons outfit which suffered a crushing last-minute, 26-20 series loss to the Blues in the decider at Homebush.
But Oates has surged back into the Origin frame with his form revival this season as the poster boy of a resurgent Broncos side that has charged into the top eight and is eyeing a fourth consecutive win this week against the Sea Eagles.
Former Broncos teammate Xavier Coates and Kyle Feldt are frontrunners for Maroons wing spots, but Oates urged Slater to keep an open mind, insisting he is not a spent force in the Origin arena.
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“I would love to play Origin again,” said Oates, the greatest ever tryscorer at Suncorp Stadium.
“You never give up hope of getting back and I don’t want to be taking Origin off the yearly calendar just yet.
“At the start of a season, I have never set a plan to play Origin, I’ve always had the mindset that if you play well for your club side first, then you become a consideration for Origin.
“I have loved wearing the Queensland jumper in the past and if I am playing my best footy for the Broncos, then I can’t be doing much more to be picked for Origin.
“If I end up getting selected again, I won’t let the Maroons down.
“Hopefully I’m in the mix somewhere this year.”
Off-contract at season’s end, Oates is producing the best numbers of his NRL career. He is averaging a career-best 163 running metres per game and has seven tries from nine matches heading into his Magic Round clash with the Sea Eagles.
The 27-year-old said he has rediscovered his zest for football after two lean seasons that included Oates being dropped by coach Kevin Walters last season.
“The one thing I am trying to do is enjoy my football again and do my job,” he said.
“I wouldn’t know what my best form looks like to be honest. But when I’m enjoying my football and competing for 80 minutes, then my form will benefit from my attitude.
“I hate letting my teammates down and I would like to think I am getting back to my most consistent form.
“When I play my best football, I am doing the hard yards and the small things well.”
Former Queensland Origin teammate Johnathan Thurston said Oates had also sorted out his injury problems.
“I did a function with ‘Oatesy’ last year and his body kept breaking down,” Thurston told Channel 9 after Brisbane’s defeat of Souths last week.
“He said he put a lot of effort into getting his body right and that’s what he has done over this pre-season.
“Corey has got himself right and he is now reaping the benefits of it.”
YOUNG BRONCOS CATCH SLATER’S ORIGIN EYE
Brisbane could be rewarded for their charge into the top eight with Queensland coach Billy Slater revealing several Broncos, including ironman lock Pat Carrigan, are in his sights for Origin I.
The Courier-Mail can reveal Slater will attend the Broncos-Sea Eagles clash on Friday night and Carrigan can press his claims for an Origin debut by outpointing Manly’s NSW star Jake Trbojevic in their Magic Round duel at Suncorp Stadium.
Slater will pick his maiden Queensland side in three weeks and the rookie Maroons coach has been buoyed by the revival of the Broncos and Cowboys which has intensified the battle for Origin jumpers.
Once the backbone of Queensland Origin teams, the Broncos have suffered a representative decay in recent years following their slide into the NRL cellar.
Just two Broncos wore Maroon jumpers last season - rookie winger Xavier Coates, who defected to Melbourne this season, and prop Tom Flegler, who was a shock debutant for Game Three after Jai Arrow was axed for his Covid breach.
But Brisbane’s premiership resurgence this season - they are shooting for a fourth straight win this week - has piqued the interest of Queensland coach Slater, who is watching Carrigan closely.
The 24-year-old was superb against Souths last week, registering 144 metres, 34 tackles and a try-assist in Brisbane’s 32-12 thumping, and Slater confirmed Carrigan has rocketed into contention for his Origin debut.
Carrigan’s forward cohort Kurt Capewell, Flegler and rejuvenated winger Corey Oates are others in Maroons contention for Origin I on June 8.
“I’m definitely watching a guy like Pat,” Slater told News Corp.
“I want our guys to think: ‘What will it take for me to be an Origin player? What actions do I need to improve on? What do I continually need to do to put myself in a position to play for Queensland?’
“Pat certainly exhibits all of that.
“He was coming back from a knee injury (against Souths) and I was super impressed with Carrigan’s attitude.
“That tells me he is taking his professionalism seriously. Pat came back earlier than expected and the way he played against Souths, he is doing a great job.
“I have also been impressed with several other Broncos players like Tom Flegler, Corey Oates and Keenan Palasia.
“They are all Queenslanders and while I may not be able to pick all of them, it is great to see their form at the moment.”
A member of Queensland’s extended squad in 2020, Carrigan plays his 52nd NRL game this week and believes he is ready for an Origin baptism.
“It was 100 per cent my goal to play Origin this year,” he said.
“I grew up watching the dynasty team and I idolised the guys like Johnathan Thurston, Cam Smith and Billy Slater.
“I have lived and dreamt of playing for Queensland and I want to get that opportunity, but I need to put some good games together at the Broncos and get some good club form first.”
Carrigan is relishing the Trbojevic showdown. If he dominates the NSW Origin workhorse, it will be another emphatic statement for Slater.
“I like going up against the best forwards in the game,” he said.
“Jake Trbojevic has been one of the best locks in the game for Manly. He has that reputation, so I want to challenge myself against a guy like him.”
Slater added: “I love to hear that Pat has written down a goal to play Origin this year.
“I had that goal when I was five years old and I want our players to have Origin in the front of their mind, but the most important thing is that their actions playing for their clubs gives them the opportunity to play for Origin.
“I love that guys like Pat want to strive to play for Queensland.”
REVEALED: WHY STAR BRONCO REJECTED $1M MANLY PAYDAY
Broncos enforcer Keenan Palasia has revealed how Brisbane’s loyalty during career-threatening operations convinced him to reject a $1 million offer from his Magic Round opponents Manly.
Palasia’s extraordinary $800,000 financial sacrifice will be laid bare in Friday night’s Magic Round clash when the Broncos forward runs onto Suncorp Stadium to confront the Manly club that tried to poach him.
If the Sea Eagles had their way, Palasia would be in a different shade of maroon.
In pre-season, Manly recruitment chiefs, impressed with Palasia’s raw-boned toughness, tabled a seemingly irresistible offer: a four-year, $250,000-a-season deal that would make the 25-year-old an instant millionaire.
But with a life-changing package on the table, Palasia stunned the Sea Eagles by doubling down on his commitment to the Broncos. He signed a one-year extension worth $200,000, a show of gratitude to the Broncos for sticking by him during the most harrowing period of his career.
In recent years, Palasia has undergone five operations, including two knee reconstructions that could have easily destroyed his NRL ambitions if not for the faith of the Broncos.
So when the Sea Eagles came calling with the biggest payday of his career, Palasia believed there was only one choice he could make.
“I stayed loyal because the Broncos stayed loyal to me through all of these injuries,” he said as the Broncos chase a fourth consecutive win this week against Manly.
“I think it would have been a bad reflection on my character to turn my back on the club after they stayed on board with me and were loyal to me for all these years.
“I am pretty proud of myself for showing some resilience (during his struggle with injuries).
“I am grateful to ‘Kevvie’ (Walters, Broncos coach) and the club for showing faith in me through all those injuries and keeping me on board.
“Now I want to repay the club as much as I can.”
Palasia has become a handy part of Brisbane’s forward rotation. He stepped up for Payne Haas during his recent suspension, is capable of playing prop or second row and chalks up his 10th consecutive game on Friday against the Sea Eagles.
“I don’t care where I play, as long as I’m playing and we’re winning,” he said.
“If we’re winning, I will play anywhere, I would peel oranges for Kev.
“Kev feels ‘Fleg’ (Tom Flegler) and I are pretty good together coming off the bench with a bit of impact, so that’s the way he has gone the last few weeks.”
In a boost for the Broncos, chief prop Haas (shoulder) has been cleared to face Manly, while vice-captain Kurt Capewell will bolster Brisbane’s back-row after missing last week’s Souths victory with a neck injury.
The Broncos will celebrate their best winning streak since 2017 if they beat the Sea Eagles and Palasia said coach Walters had challenged Brisbane’s forwards to step-up in support of Haas.
“Kev has made a huge point that we can rely on anyone,” he said.
“Haas is not the only player in our team, we have a 30-man squad, so there’s always someone to step up whenever we need.
“When he isn’t playing, that’s 20-something carries that we have to split up between the middle forwards, so whoever does step up, we always trust them to do the job.”
SEA EAGLES v BRONCOS
Friday, 8.05pm, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
1. Tom Trbojevic, 2. Christian Tuipulotu, 3. Ben Trbojevic, 4. Tolutau Koula, 5. Reuben Garrick, 6. Kieran Foran, 7. Daly Cherry-Evans, 8. Josh Aloiai, 9. Lachlan Croker, 10. Sean Keppie, 11. Haumole Olakau’atu, 12. Ethan Bullemor, 13. Jake Trbojevic
Bench: 14. Dylan Walker, 15. Andrew Davey, 16. Martin Taupau, 17. Toafofoa Sipley
Reserves: 18. Kurt De Luis, 19. Morgan Harper, 20. Kaeo Weekes, 21. James Roumanos, 22. Josh Schuster, 23. Jamie Humphries, 24. Jacob Sykes
1. Te Maire Martin, 2. Corey Oates, 3. Kotoni Staggs, 4. Herbie Farnworth, 5. Selwyn Cobbo, 6. Tyson Gamble, 7. Adam Reynolds, 8. Corey Jensen, 9. Billy Walters, 10. Payne Haas, 11. Kurt Capewell, 12. Jordan Riki, 13. Pat Carrigan
Bench: 14. Cory Paix, 15. Kobe Hetherington, 16. Thomas Flegler, 17. Keenan Palasia
Reserves: 18. Brenko Lee, 19. TC Robati, 20. Rhys Kennedy, 21. Ezra Mam, 22. Jordan Pereira 23. Ryan James, 24. Jake Turpin
REYNOLDS’ PRICELESS GIFT TO BRISBANE BRONCOS
Adam Reynolds’ hidden gift to the Broncos could be to save them from paying “overs’’ in looming contract wars as Brisbane fights to revive its standing as a destination club.
Halfback import Reynolds has been lauded as one of the competition’s buys of the year and already there are signs the Broncos could feel the benefits of their mini-form surge in the white hot player market.
The Dolphins are stalking stars like centre Herbie Farnworth who now, in addition to financial considerations, must decide whether he wants to leave Red Hill just as the green shoots blossom at the club he has been with since he was 15.
Matthew Johns said that clubs near the bottom of the ladder are finding it increasingly difficult to move upwards because they are forced to offer significant “overs’’ for top players to join or stay with them.
The Broncos have been one of those sides for the past two seasons but club legend Wally Lewis, while conceding that it is early days in Reynolds tenure, said if Reynolds led Brisbane to a brighter world the off-field benefits would be significant.
“We saw that with players like Alfie Langer, Kevvie Walters and Glenn Lazarus that they had magnetic attraction for players who just wanted to play with them,’’ Lewis said.
“You had middle of the road players who just wanted to be successful and play better football. It all helps. The same happened with Darren Lockyer.’’
Many decorated players, including Lewis himself, took smaller offers to stay in Brisbane than they could have at other clubs.
While the landscape has shifted to a more mercenary era, not everything revolves around money.
“I suppose one thing that has changed from the early days is the advent of players managers who are naturally more focused on getting a better financial deal,’’ Lewis said.
“A lot of players see the cash register as vitally important but if you are winning games and trusting the players around you that is a big part of the decision making process as well.
“What Reynolds has done so far has been quite remarkable really.’’
Broncos forward Jordan Riki said Reynolds’ composure had made a marked impact on the team.
“When people ask me what he is like I say I cannot believe how calm he is,’’ Riki said.
“In some situations where our backs are against the wall and we are doing three or four sets against our own line he gets us in and says a few words. It is just really good for us to have someone to lean on and trust.’’
The Broncos face some tough decisions in naming their side for Friday night’s Magic Round match against Manly.
Payne Haas (shoulder) and Kurt Capewell (neck) trained with red shirts on Monday to avoid contact and neither is certain to play.
The Broncos informed the media star winger Selwyn Cobbo missed the session for personal reasons but later released a statement revealing he had been in court in Nanango facing driving charges which resulted in a $700 fine.
The forecast of a 500mm deluge in Queensland over the next week has local authorities concerned about the heavy workload at Suncorp Stadium but Stadium general manager Alan Graham remains confident the ground can cope.
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“There is heavy rain coming but most of it by Wednesday and then it starts to even out a little bit,’’ Graham said.
“Our groundsman is reasonably confident with the state of the field. We have been preparing for this event for a while now.’’
Originally published as NRL 2022: Corey Oates keen to show off Origin credentials in Manly showdown