April 17, 2024

Following the NRL recall, Corey Oates discusses his relationship with Kevin Walters.

The winger for the Brisbane Broncos, Corey Oates, has taken steps to dispel suspicions that he and head coach Kevin Walters would not get along.

The rumours started after Oates was left out of the Broncos’ team to play the opening weeks of the campaign, with Oates then also failing to feature at Queensland Cup level.

It was, according to News Corp suggested by some that Oates had refused to play reserve grade after being overlooked for Deine Mariner.

The young gun was selected by Walters to feature on one wing, while Jesse Arthars, who had a wildly successful 2023, was picked on the other, with Selwyn Cobbo moving into the centres following the off-season departure of Herbie Farnworth to the Dolphins.

Oates was recalled on Friday evening to take part in Brisbane’s win over the North Queensland Cowboys, coming off the bench and playing in the second-row, a position he isn’t unfamiliar with having spent a stint of his career there through the earlier portion.

After scoring a try in the game, Oates told the publication that he hadn’t played reserve grade because he was managing a knee condition, with Walters backing him to manage it with rest and training rather than preparing through the QLD Cup.

“I spoke to ‘Kevvie’ about it all and he thought the same,” Oates said.

“He wanted me to look after my body and said ‘I’m not going to force you to play. I know you can train and be prepared’. He told me to get everything right, get the body feeling good and we’ll go from there.

“It wasn’t because of Q-Cup. It’s the way the cycle is. I’ve been playing for a long time now and it’s got to change at some stage.

“When you get opportunities as a young kid you’ve got to take it. It’s just unfortunate timing for me at the moment. I’ve got to look after myself and when the time comes, hopefully I’m ready to play and do my job.

“I did a couple of weeks of rehab and looked after it and got my chance to be in the team. Hopefully I can keep getting these opportunities.”

Now a veteran, Oates at 29 years of age has 202 NRL games under his belt and will look to add to that throughout the 2024 season, although will likely have to play out of position to do so.

Brisbane have a shortage in the second-row after letting Kurt Capewell go to the New Zealand Warriors during the off-season, with Brendan Piakura and Jordan Riki having little in the way of support within the squad.

Jaiyden Hunt, who joined the Broncos from the St George Illawarra Dragons over the off-season, has transformed himself into an edge forward and spent time there on Friday in the win over North Queensland after starting the game, while Patrick Carrigan and Xavier Willison have also spent time on the edge.

Oates could have a larger role to play there in the coming weeks with his running game noted as a key asset for the Broncos, averaging 184 metres per contest in his nine games last year despite not crossing the tryline.

That has been a theme of Oates’ career, with the 2020 season being the last time he averaged under 150 metres per game.

Oates will likely be retained in the Broncos’ side next weekend as Piakura battles to return from injury.

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