Melbourne is gearing up for a blockbuster match against the Broncos, with the team moving their training from Red Hill to Suncorp Stadium, the arena for this week’s playoffs confrontation with the team they struggle against the most.
Arthars, setting the left wing stage on fire, will replace Oates to be part of the starting 13, as decided by the Brisbane coach Kevin Walters. Though a huge advantage to Arthars, it’s a massive setback for Oates, bearing the mantle of the only surviving player from the 2015 grand-final team.
Despite his noteworthy record, as one of the first-choice left wingers scoring against the Storm only a week ago, Oates will not be playing in the finals against the Storm. The Storm, in the past, have claimed victory against the Broncos in the last fourteen consecutive matches. This is expected to be Arthars’ grand time to shine as he partners with Selwyn Cobbo.
Given the steady performance that Arthars has delivered this season, he managed to secure a commendable three-year contract extension. The Storm will not present as new competition to Arthars, as he played with Melbourne’s under-20s for two seasons, before his career trajectory directed him towards the Titans, post his stint in South Sydney.
As for Oates, two knee issues and a broken jaw restraint his opportunities, limiting his participation to merely nine matches.
Walters’ bold move to select Arthars, is an indication of his faith in Arthars’ impressive speed, ability to finish and knack for fearless kick returns to outshine the Storm‘s defence.
Another new to the team news is Keenan Palasia. Slated to clinch the final bench spot, Palasia’s versatility can play both in the centre or on the edge, elevating him above Martin Taupau and Corey Jensen.
Though Tyson Smoothy has been locked in as Brisbane’s No.14, alongside Brendan Piakura and Kobe Hetherington, Jensen’s performance this season has not been overlooked. Nevertheless, Walters goes with the versatility of Palasia’s play.