Experienced winger for the Broncos, Corey Oates, has announced his surprising intent to stay with the Brisbane team even if it involves a reduction in his salary, following his omission from the roster for the qualifying final.
The 28-year-old Oates, who made all his 201 appearances in Brisbane and represented Queensland nine times, most recently in 2022, is a true loyalist to his team.
Rumours swirling hint at Oates considering a move to Newcastle due to dissatisfaction with his current $450,000 salary. Yet, in spite of missing his spot in the Broncos squad against the Melbourne Storm in the semi-final to Jesse Arthars, Oates conveyed his loyalty to the Broncos. He even mooted the idea of accepting a reduced salary.
At the cusp of the Storm‘s qualifying final, Oates acknowledged the tough decisions veteran players must make. “It’s a reality when you’ve been playing for a team for a considerable amount of time,” he said.
Oates emphasised his determination to work towards the preservation of the team. “I’m aware of the decisions that need to be made, it’s all about the future development of the team,” he said.
Oates appeared to be hopeful about the future and expressed his joy at returning to the field after facing a challenging year. His struggles were mainly due to persistent injury issues that hampered his performance in 2023. Featuring in just nine matches and unable to clinch a single try, Oates battled knee problems and a broken jaw.
Despite his injuries, Oates scored seven line breaks and an impressive 185m per game average when participating, totalling 1667m. Comparatively, Arthars managed eight tries, 14 line breaks and an average of 97m per game across his 17 matches, summing up to 1660m.
Oates chose to renounce an option in his favour for the next season to start new talks. Despite fears that this might push him away from the team, he expressed his preference for continuing with the Broncos.
“Moving on is part of the game, but my love for the Broncos is no secret,” Oates confessed. “The following weeks will determine the future, but right now, I’m simply thrilled to be back on the field even as I work on recovering from multiple injuries this year.”
The decision to sideline Oates perplexed many as, regardless of his injuries, he showcased effective ball-running abilities when fit. However, within the final teams, his omission raised eyebrows.
Darren Lockyer, Broncos legend, expressed to WWOS’ QLDER program that this was an “extraordinary” decision requiring considerations of Oates’ movement and health. “This hinges on a mix of agility. Corey brings strong ball return, but Storm’s big, agile wingers made the Broncos lean towards Jesse due to his versatility and quicker reactions to the unfolding game,” Lockyer said.
Reflecting on his tough decision to assign Oates as the 18th man, coach Walters stated, “Corey isn’t at his peak, given his recent recovery from knee complications.” Oates, handling the situation professionally, demonstrated his determination to regain his former position.