‘I didn’t see it coming’: Bronco caught with pants down
Queensland Origin star Corey Oates says he didn't see his axing at Brisbane coming and has vowed to channel his frustration at being dropped into reclaiming his starting spot on the Broncos' flanks.
In his only interview on his demotion, a shattered Oates said he had a point to prove to coach Anthony Seibold as he begins his fightback against the New Zealand Warriors on Saturday evening in Gosford.
Oates has gone 343 days without a try in the NRL and was relegated to 18th man duties for the Warriors clash after paying the price for Brisbane's dismal 30-12 loss to the Gold Coast last Saturday night.
But prop Matt Lodge's late withdrawal with a knee injury has opened the door for Oates, who is an 11th-hour addition and will be deployed as a back-rower off the bench at Central Coast Stadium.
Kayo is your ticket to the 2020 NRL Telstra Premiership. Every game of every round Live & On-Demand with no-ad breaks during play. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
It is not the ideal backdrop for Oates' 150th NRL game, with the Maroons winger admitting he was shocked to receive the news he was the only casualty of Brisbane's derby loss to the Titans.
"To be honest, I didn't see it coming and I don't think I deserved to be dropped," Oates said.
"I was heartbroken when the coach dropped me. It bloody hurt. I didn't take it lightly and I wasn't happy, I was pretty pissed off for a couple of days and then I just thought there is no point kicking cans.
"It was a tough pill to swallow. I've had a conversation with the coach and I said I will still be the same person around the team. I will just train and work hard to get my starting spot back."
Captain Alex Glenn did his best to lighten the mood at training on Friday, sneaking up behind Oates and pulling his pants down, which left teammates laughing and the would-be 150-gamer looking a little sheepish.
"I was a bit surprised that I was the only guy dropped and no-one else, but now I'm back in the team with 'Lodgey' out so I guess I get another chance," Oates continued.
"I feel I've been doing a pretty decent job on the wing. It is what it is. It's my 150th game and I'm coming off the bench so I will just do what I can and hopefully we can finally get a win against the Warriors."
The relegation of Oates adds further intrigue to his future at Red Hill.
One of the club's most popular players with fans, Oates has scored 92 career tries and has been Brisbane's premier winger for five years, but he fears he is being groomed for the forwards before he is ready.
While Oates has spoken of his desire to be a back-rower later in his career, the veteran of eight Origin games believes he has more to offer as a winger in the current set-up.
He has conveyed that message to Seibold.
"Seibs asked me last week if I wanted to be a back-rower or a winger and I said to him I want to play wing," he said.
"Down the track, I might end up in the forwards, but right now I believe I'm best suited to the wing with my role in this team.
"Looking at the team now, it would be pretty hard to get the edge back-row spot over David Fifita, Tevita (Pangai Jr) and Alex Glenn, it would be silly of me to think I could knock those blokes out of the team.
"I believe I'm best suited to the wing, but apparently I'm on the bench as a back-rower this week. If nothing happens to the backs, I'll be in the forwards.
"The Titans game was one of those games where the ball wasn't coming to me. I was trying to go in there to look for it.
"I feel like my defence has been pretty good and it's actually been better than other years.
"I don't feel like I have stuffed up in a major way in games, but once a coach makes his decision, they don't go back on them."
Oates assured Broncos fans the squad is desperate to kickstart their season against the Warriors tonight.
"People saying we don't care don't understand how hard we try," he said. "When you lose five games in a row, everyone hurts, but as a team we need to be better across the board to beat the Warriors."
Originally published as 'I didn't see it coming': Bronco caught with pants down