How Reborn Broncos Aviator Corey Oates Got His Raging Groove Back

Something funny has happened in recent years: Corey Oates became an old hand.

The Brisbane winger is far from the veteran class as he’s only 27, but considering he’s also the longest-serving Broncos player since his debut in 2013, it’s a boot that fits.

It means that Oates doesn’t take the club’s rise to the top four, or his own comeback to become one of the best wingers in the league, for granted.

“There’s not much you can do about what happened. All you can do is learn,” Oates said.

“The team we have now, a lot of those guys have been through hard times and hard years, that’s not something you want to go through, but when you come out the other side – and we’re not all there yet – but it trust and faith is there.

“It wasn’t there a few years ago, and that was a hard feeling to have.”

Like many Broncos players, Oates got lost during the club’s years in the wild.

Formerly one of the best wingers in the league, Oates fell off a cliff in 2020-21. His prolific finishing speed let him down as he crossed just six tries in 28 games over the two seasons.

Towards the end, the Queensland Origin winger struggled to break Brisbane’s best 17.


“It’s nothing against the club or the coaches. I felt really good in 2021, I just didn’t get the playing time or the chance to show it. That’s fine because the year I had in 2020 … would not having you chose me,” Oates said.

“But I was in for round 1 this year and was able to go from there.”

Amid a myriad of revamped careers this season, Oates’ comeback was something unique.

For players like Patrick Carrigan, Selwyn Cobbo and Tesi Niu, all early career players, rapid improvement once the environment around them got better was always on the map.

But for players like Oates, who have already reached great heights only to be knocked down again, it’s much harder to turn things around.

To his credit, Oates has not only matched his form in recent years, he may well be in the midst of the best season of his career.

Daly Cherry-Evans and another Manly player grab Corey Oates, who is upside down during an NRL game.
Oates has scored in every way possible in 2022. (Getty: Bradley Kanaris)

How well is he going? Good enough to score 16 tries in as many games, good enough to run more yards than any other winger in the league, good enough not to have a serious discussion for a team of the year without talking about Baralaba’s big horse.

While Oates has always put in a strong attacking game, his defense was also first-rate in 2022 – he capped off numerous Parramatta forays in last week’s win at Brisbane, and timed his on-field attacks to perfection as the Broncos showed the defensive zeal of a top player. class side to keep the Eels scoreless in the second half.

“Those decisions are easy for me because everyone inside is doing the hard work and I just have to follow. But the belief to defend teams for multiple sets is huge,” Oates said.

“We used to let teams in after four tackles, that’s a huge change for us, and it’s because of the coaches. It’s not just the players, the coaches have all set us up and we’re constantly trying to get better.”

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