It’s not just Brisbane support staff who are marvelling at Corey Oates.
Darren Lockyer has backed Queensland coach Kevin Walters’ call that lanky Broncos NRL winger Oates looms as a State of Origin bolter.
Oates has surprised even Brisbane high performance manager Jeremy Hickmans after returning from a serious shoulder injury almost a month early ahead of Friday night’s NRL derby on the Gold Coast.
And Lockyer has also liked what he has seen from the 21-year-old.
The Maroons will boast a new-look backline for Origin I in Sydney on June 1 without retired centre Justin Hodges and veteran fullback Billy Slater (shoulder).
Former Queensland skipper Lockyer said Oates had already convinced him he was ready for Origin before being injured two weeks ago.
“Corey Oates is one of those who are spoken about and I don’t think he would be out of place,” Lockyer said.
“I think he is very composed in the big games.”
Walters has also talked up Oates’ chances, saying the giant winger was among his potential bolters along with Gold Coast backrower Chris McQueen.
“Up until he was injured, he was someone we were looking at,” Walters told Fox Sports TV.
Oates has given himself another chance to impress before the Maroons squad is named after round 11 thanks to his remarkable recovery.
Hickmans admitted he was sceptical that Oates could return so quickly from an AC joint injury.
Oates was initially expected to be sidelined for up to six weeks when he suffered the shoulder complaint in a collision with Warriors prop Ben Matulino a fortnight ago.
However, Hickmans gave Oates the thumbs up after excelling in a second-straight contact session on Tuesday.
“We thought it would be a four to six-week injury and he has made it back,” Hickmans told the Broncos website.
Meanwhile, Walters believed McQueen’s utility value may give him an edge at the Queensland selection table after impressing at new club Gold Coast.
The former South Sydney backrower last played Origin in 2014 and has been vocal about his desire to return since starting his two-year Titans deal.
“He covers a number of positions so his utility value is very strong,” Walters said.
“He’s one who comes into contention.”
McQueen said the move north had done wonders for his desire to reclaim his Origin jersey.
“I was at South Sydney for seven years and the same coaching structure for five of those,” he said.
“I feel refreshed and am enjoying my footy.”