It seems not even a shoulder injury can stop Brisbane’s Corey Oates from putting his hand up for Queensland State of Origin duty.
Oates appears to be sidelined for a month after breaking down late in the Broncos’ 25-10 NRL second-round win over a gutsy Warriors at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
But Maroons flyer Darius Boyd still couldn’t stop talking up the towering winger’s 2016 Origin chances after yet another stellar display by the 21-year-old.
Oates went close to sealing man-of-the-match honours for a second straight game, finishing with three tackle busts and running 152m before suffering a dislocated shoulder in the 71st minute.
But it was enough to ensure incumbent Maroons winger Dane Gagai will be under pressure to hold his spot for the June 1 Origin series opener in Sydney after Oates returns from the sidelines.
Brisbane teammate Boyd – a 23-game Maroons veteran – said the 1.92m, 105kg Oates had already shown that he had what it took to cut it at Origin level.
“He’s so tall, people want to stay away from him – no one wants to get in his way,” Boyd said.
“And his decisions in defence are only getting better.
“He would be close (to Origin selection) but that is up to (coach) Kevvie (Walters).”
Oates stormed over in a blindside play to score in the eighth minute against the Warriors but he impressed most at the other end of the field.
Twice Oates defied the odds by somehow overpowering the physical Warriors defence and running the ball out of the in-goal in the first half.
Brisbane skipper Corey Parker paid possibly the ultimate compliment by comparing Oates with the Warriors’ veteran winger Manu “The Beast” Vatuvei.
“He’s our Manu isn’t he?” Parker said.
“Only someone of his size and strength could have got us out of that (in-goal play).”
Veteran Brisbane forward Sam Thaiday said Oates seemed destined to chime into their backrow.
In the meantime, Thaiday said their job was to keep Oates grounded.
“We try to ensure our young blokes don’t get too far ahead of themselves and keep working on their flaws,” he said.
But Boyd did not think a big head would be a potential problem for Oates despite the praise he continued to lavish on the youngster.
“The sky is the limit in the next 12 months – he is just getting better and better,” Boyd said.
“As long as he can stay on the park anything is possible.”
Meanwhile, Broncos coach Wayne Bennett hinted that Lachlan Maranta rather than Greg Eden may replace Oates in their next clash with Penrith.