‘Nobody owns the jumper’: Big issue leaving Corey Oates ‘on the outer’


Corey Oates’ Broncos career is at a crossroads as debate rages over whether the veteran winger has a right to feel hard done by for being repeatedly left out of the Brisbane side.

The 29-year-old has scored 118 tries in 202 games, but just nine of those came last season and he has fallen down the pecking order under Kevin Walters, with Jesse Arthars and young gun Deine Mariner keeping him out of the side.

However, Dean Ritchie believes Oates doesn’t have a claim to a starting jersey in a very strong Broncos team.

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“The Corey Oates situation is interesting because he only played nine games last year,” Ritchie said on NRL 360

“He had a broken jaw and a few other injuries. He came back and got dropped for the finals. He missed both finals and missed the grand final. Selwyn Cobbo and Jesse Arthars were the wingers.

“I’m just curious to know what makes Corey Oates think that he should walk straight back into that side?”

“Is he on the outer there?” Braith Anasta asked.

“It sounds like it,” Ritchie replied.

However, James Hooper believes there is no secret why Oates is being overlooked for his younger teammates.

“Kevvie has gone on the record several times and said I’ve told Corey what the issue is and it’s speed,” Hooper said.

“Arthars and Mariner are lighting quick. Cobbo has switched to the centres. Where are you going to fit Oates in the starting side?”

Paul Kent believes the Broncos have built their game plan under Kevin Walters on speed and most of their success from last season came from their attack which is fuelled by it.

“That’s the issue,” Kent said.

“The issue is the Broncos are a dangerous team. They are a point scoring team primarily. It is attack over defence and it is built around the speed.

“Corey Oates doesn’t have the speed. That’s what the other guys have got.

“The good sides in the competition right now have got speed. You can’t coach speed. It is born in players and you can’t find it if it is not there.

“The Broncos have got it and they use it to their advantage. Last week you look at some of the sides and the quicker teams on the paddock were the ones that won the game.

“Obviously it didn’t happen for the Broncos, but you have got to sit there and if you have got speed there you don’t leave it out when that is such a big part of your game plan.”

NRL squads need depth to win the premiership and Anasta believes the Broncos are keeping Oates because he is a proven finisher should injuries strike over the course of a long season.

“I think they are doing a really good job as they are,” Anasta said.

“I think Oates is a really good back-up if any injuries do happen in the outside backs.”

However, Ritchie believes if speed is the issue Oates may have to look at joining another team if he wants to play first grade.

“He is not going to get any quicker,” Ritchie said.

“He is getting older, so he is going to get slower as he ages. So he is not going to get back in the side if he is going with speed.”

Anasta agreed Oates may opt to leave the club if he feels he can play first grade elsewhere.

“He is going to get itchy feet if he is sitting on the sidelines,” Anasta said.

However, Kent pointed out that Oates had the opportunity to leave and chose to stay and fight for the jersey, but that doesn’t mean he owns a starting role if there are better options.

“That might be OK,” Kent said of him getting itchy feet.

“He doesn’t have a right to be in the side. He was a mainstay in the side some years back.

“There was a period a couple of years back where they actually gave him an opportunity to look elsewhere. He decided he wanted to stay and he went on and had a very nice season that year. I think he was player of the year at the club or runners-up.

“But that said, it doesn’t mean that you have this eternal right for your position in the side. Nobody owns the jumper.”

Originally published as ‘Nobody owns the jumper’: Big issue leaving Corey Oates ‘on the outer’

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