Broncos’ big ‘Freak’ the new Dell
HE is called 'The Freak' and Broncos teenager Xavier Coates is about to terrorise the NRL after undergoing a bulk-up regimen that has him as muscular as Brisbane wing great Wendell Sailor.
On Friday, the 18-year-old will be named in Brisbane's squad for the NRL Nines tournament as a prelude to coach Anthony Seibold unleashing Coates for the Broncos' premiership opener against the Cowboys next month.
Brisbane backline giants Sailor and Lote Tuqiri gave the Broncos premiership-winning thrust in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and now Seibold possesses another 100kg-plus wing alliance in Coates and Corey Oates.
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For the past four months the Broncos have tailored a specific gym program to prepare Coates for the physicality of the NRL.
Likened in playing style to Greg Inglis and Israel Folau, the 194cm Coates has added 5kg of muscle over summer to tip the scales at 102kg - the same size as Sailor and Tuqiri when the monster wingers powered the Broncos to premiership glory.
Coates played three NRL games last season, scoring a try on debut against Cronulla in round 16, and Seibold confirmed the young gun is in contention for the right-wing spot vacated by Jamayne Isaako's shift to fullback.
"I'm giving Xavier an opportunity to play NRL this year," Seibold said.
"There's no guarantees for anyone but I'd like to see him, Herbie Farnworth and Corey Oates fighting it out for those wing spots.
"Xavier has had a very good pre-season so it's now up to him.
"He is a real talent. It will be great to see a guy like Xavier at the NRL Nines. It will be exciting for our fans to see the young talent we are bringing through."
A triple jump, high jump and long jump champion as a 15-year-old, Coates has enjoyed a meteoric rise to the NRL.
In the space of 56 days last year, the long-striding winger or centre went from the Tweed Heads under-18s in May to a senior Test debut for Papua New Guinea in June before his Broncos blooding two weeks later.
Coates is eligible for NRL rookie of the year honours this season, and Broncos insiders have been stunned by his physical development in recent months.
"Xavier was a pretty skinny kid when he arrived 12 months ago but now he's 102kg," Seibold said.
"We deliberately took him out of playing with about seven weeks to go last season to bulk him up. We put him in the gym and worked hard on him physically so he would have a headstart for this pre-season.
"He's developed really well physically. He is still learning his trade, but he is very humble and doing an education degree so he has interests outside of rugby league.
"Not only is he a special talent but he is a good person and has attributes I like as a player.
"Xavier only trained one day a week with the NRL squad last year so it was a hell of a journey for him."
Former Queensland Origin lock Scott Sattler, who watched Coates in the Intrust Super Cup last season in his role as a Channel 9 commentator, said the Broncos ace had the gifts to be an NRL superstar.
"With his build and the way he moves, Xavier reminds me of guys like Israel Folau and Greg Inglis," he said.
"It's only early days but I watched him against men in the Intrust Super Cup last year and he handled the step up easily like all the special talents tend to do.
"He's got a very promising career ahead of him."