Bronco’s switch is off: ‘I should just give up hope’
BRONCOS star Corey Oates is resigned to finishing his NRL career as a winger and has blasted suggestions a planned move to the forwards was a tactic to pocket more money.
Oates found himself at loggerheads with recently-sacked Broncos coach Wayne Bennett this year after his shock pre-season revelation that he wanted to quit as a winger to play in the back row.
Bennett scuppered the idea from the outset and threatened to axe Oates to the second-tier Intrust Super Cup if he persisted with plans to become a back rower.
But even with Bennett now out of the picture at Red Hill, Oates has altered his mindset and says he won't be lobbying new Broncos coach Anthony Seibold for a positional move.
While a part of him will always yearn for a return to the back-row position in which he was graded by the Broncos, Oates accepts Brisbane's depth of forward talent will restrict him to the flanks.
The Broncos will have an array of back-row options in 2019 headlined by Origin ace Matt Gillett, former Kiwi Test veteran Alex Glenn and young guns Jaydn Su'A and David Fifita.
"It's unbelievable the quality of back rowers we have - it makes me think I should just give up hope (of playing in the forwards)," Oates said.
"I guess you never want to give up on it (playing back row), but it slowly just gets further and further away with the young talent we have coming through."
Asked if he believes he will be a winger for the rest of his career, Oates said: "Yeah, the way I'm playing I will be.
"It's what everyone keeps telling me at the Broncos.
"I trialled in the back row last year in pre-season and I was pretty happy.
"I thought, 'I have done a good job there' and the coaches said, 'yeah you did', then they put me back on the wing and said, 'just stay on the wing'.
"I never played wing in my juniors ever, not once.
"I was a back rower, lock or centre … I never played wing until I came to the Broncos."
Oates says he won't confront Seibold about the coach's plans "until he approaches me", but the Queensland Origin flyer has come to appreciate his value on Brisbane's left wing.
The 24-year-old has scored 51 tries from his past 66 games on the Broncos flanks, including 18 last season, many of which were spectacular one-handed put-downs that rubber-stamped Oates as one of the NRL's best finishers.
What particularly irks Oates is the perception he wants to play in the back row to increase his value in the code.
"It's never been a money thing," he said.
"Once I realised I will be on the wing, I got this thing in my head to prove that wingers aren't just blokes who sit out on the sideline and count numbers.
"Look at what wingers do these days - they change a game.
"There was a period where people said wingers weren't needed in a team, but look at what Blake Ferguson did this year for the Roosters.
"The size of wingers now is incredible, so I want to try and be one of the safest wingers in the game."
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