Coach Walters is contemplating the replacement of Oates by Jesse Arthars, who trained as the left wing with the primary team at Red Hill on Sunday. Oates, a long-term left winger for Brisbane, was spotted training with the secondary Renegades team.
Star players Adam Reynolds and Pat Carrigan are likely to be reinstated after brief training sessions, boosting Brisbane in a significant way. The possible omission of Oates would be a harsh setback for the Queensland Origin star, the only remaining player from Brisbane’s 2015 grand final team.
Considering his vast experience, Oates was seen as an assured selection for Brisbane’s final matchup against their problematic opponent, the Storm, who have managed 14 consecutive wins against the Broncos. However, Arthars is predicted to replace Oates and join forces with Selwyn Cobbo for the critical final at Suncorp Stadium.
Arthars has been a consistent player for Brisbane this season, and his top-form performance earned him a three-year contract extension. In contrast, Oates has been plagued by injuries, including a broken jaw and knee issues that limited his participation to just nine games.
Coach Walters isn’t hesitant in making tough selection decisions and thinks Arthars’ speed could pose a problem to Storm winger Will Warbrick. Walters also needs to finalise his alternate line-up, with Brendan Piakura, Kobe Hetherington, Corey Jensen and Martin Taupau vying for three substitute spots.
A day earlier, Oates declared the Broncos were prepared to face any team, dismissing Melbourne’s psychological advantage. He confidently stated that the Broncos are superior and ready to counterattack in the following week’s two critical matches.
The Broncos‘ chance at securing their first minor premiership in 23 years was thwarted by Penrith’s 44-12 defeat of the Cowboys on Saturday. Despite this, the Storm continued their winning streak against the Broncos, marking their 14th consecutive victory in a final-round fixture where several key players were benched.
Nonetheless, the marquee players of both Melbourne and Brisbane will be on the field for the Suncorp finals showdown. Despite recent losses to the Storm, the Broncos are bringing back 11 seasoned players, including Adam Reynolds, Reece Walsh and Payne Haas, for the upcoming Storm confrontation.
Brisbane finished the regular season with 18 wins, equalling the club record held by four previous teams. Oates believes that this team, which has recovered from the club’s worst period, is emotionally robust.
The dismissal of former coach Anthony Seibold paved the way for a ‘Kev-olution’, mandating a tremendous turnaround for the Broncos under Walters’ coaching. After enduring challenging years, players like Oates, Payne Haas, Tom Flegler and Kotoni Staggs powered the club into the finals.
Oates believes the tough years they faced will come to their advantage. “The knowledge I acquired during those trying years was invaluable. The newcomers only knew of defeat and exclusion from the finals, which was heart-breaking,” Oates said.
He reiterated, “This game is challenging. With 17 teams vying for one trophy, if you don’t make it to the top eight, your journey ends.” Having made it into the finals, Oates affirms that Brisbane is prepared to give their best to claim their first title since 2006. “Once you’ve made it to the top eight, you have to step up. I believe this team has what it takes,” Oates concluded.