Corey Oates would prefer to be a backrower but is determined to make his mark on the wing for Queensland. Pictgure: Dave Hunt/AAP
Corey Oates would prefer to be a backrower but is determined to make his mark on the wing for Queensland. Pictgure: Dave Hunt/AAP

'Backrower' Oates can wing it on left edge

BILLY Slater has highlighted two of Queensland's greats to show why big-bodied winger Corey Oates can be a potent force for Queensland' tonight.

Wendell Sailor and Lote Tuqiri were twin powerhouses for Queensland in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and Slater has put the returning Oates in the same company as the former Broncos pair.

Oates was axed after the opening game of last year's series, with Valentine Holmes joining Dane Gagai on the wing as the Maroons opted for speed.

Holmes has made every post a winner since, scoring six tries in four appearances to stamp himself as one of the most potent scorers in Origin history.

The 192cm, 106kg Oates is a different type of player to that pair, but Maroons captain Slater believes the winger's size can be an asset.

"He's a different winger to Dane (Gagai) and Valentine (Holmes), but he brings a lot of power," Slater said.

"He's a big guy and hopefully he can get our sets off to a really good start. I've seen big wingers play Origin before - Wendell Sailor, Lote Tuqiri - and he's done the job before.

"When he has got the opportunity, he's played his role and delivered, so it's good to see Oatesy get his chance."

Oates, too, believes his size could be helpful when he joins Gagai - moved to the centres - on the left edge.

"I'm a lot different to other wingers that have played for Queensland - I'm not the electric, agile, steppy (sic) winger," Oates said.

"I'm a backrower playing on the wing. I try and get those strong carries and get the boys moving forward early.

"I'm not going to change my game. I'm going to stick to it and just help out as much as I can, work off the ball a lot more and offer whatever I can wherever I can."

Oates and Gagai have a tough job tonight against Blues tyros James Roberts and Tom Trbojevic, but the Bronco is looking forward to the challenge.

Corey Oates heads for a Maroons training session at the InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort on the Gold Coast. Picture: Glenn Hunt/AAP
Corey Oates heads for a Maroons training session at the InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort on the Gold Coast. Picture: Glenn Hunt/AAP

"There's a bit of speed out there," Oates said.

"I just think we've got to be up in their face and shut their speed down - don't give them room to move.

"They've both got great skill, Jimmy (Roberts) and Trbojevic, so it'll be a good contest, I think.

"They're both pretty physical players and they have got a lot of speed, but I'll try and use my size."

Oates admitted he dropped his head last season after Maroons coach Kevin Walters wielded the axe, but said he was proud of himself for fighting back to regain his spot.

"Whether I did or didn't (deserve to be dropped) it was a losing team and they (the Maroons) won the series, so obviously it was the right decision," he said.

"It hurts, but they ended up winning the series and they played great football without me in the team.

"Whether I was a factor in losing the game I don't really know, but I feel like I've changed a lot since then and matured as a player and am starting to play a lot more consistent football."

- Emma Greenwood

News Corp Australia


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