Sailor: Oates poised to write own legend
His devastating exploits on the wing for Brisbane earned him the nickname of 'White Wendell' but Wendell Sailor believes Corey Oates is poised to write his own legend and become one of Queensland's greatest ever wingers.
Oates is tipped to fill one of the voids in the Maroons backline created by injuries to Billy Slater and Will Chambers and retirement of Justin Hodges when coach Kevin Walters unveils his team for Game One on Tuesday night, marking an extraordinary rise for the 21-year-old.
Prior to last season he had played just 29 first grade games and despite an insistence he is a back-rower playing on the wing, has developed into one of the game's most effective finishers.
He has scored in 17 of his past 25 games for the Broncos with an undeniable mix of speed and power and some acrobatic skills that men much smaller would struggle to complete.
At 192 centimetres and 106 kilograms he boasts almost identical physical dimensions to the all-conquering Sailor but the former Maroons great says he is on the verge of forging his own name in the game.
"I don't know what they call him but he can cut his own name," Sailor told NRL.com.
"I hate when people compare other players to the past. Gene Miles was Gene Miles, I was who I was, as far as I'm concerned, Corey Oates is Corey Oates and he's wonderful to watch.
"I get excited watching a few players. Anthony Milford is my favourite player, I get excited watching Dylan Napa, Corey Oates for me is a player that I love watching because of what he brings.
"He's a powerful beast when he plays and that's what the Broncos need. The more he's in those teams for Queensland and the Broncos the happier I'll be.
"I played with some pretty good wingers and played against some pretty good wingers – Lote Tuqiri, Adam MacDougall – but Corey Oates has taken it to a new level.
"I'm a massive fan of Semi Radradra, I think he's the best winger in the game but Corey Oates is putting some pressure on him along with Valentine Holmes.
"He could be one of the best Queensland wingers that have come through for a long time.
"He's only young, he could be there for 10 years. People say that in three or four years he'll probably go into the back row but if he's killing it on the wing, don't put him in the back row."
It has been 20 years this year since Sailor played the first of his 14 Origins for Queensland and said that the best thing Oates can do for his confidence is to get his hands on the ball as soon as possible.
"What he needs to do is to keep it simple. Get a touch early. Take a hit-up in the first set of six," sailor said.
"When that first high ball goes up he's got to take it. Even if you drop it you've got to make sure you go for it because the longer you leave to take that first carry, make that first tackle, the more nervous you become and the more you tighten up as a player.
"I've said it for the past 18 months, Corey Oates has got all the ingredients of a State of Origin player. What he needs to understand is to believe in his own ability when he runs out there.
"Queensland selectors such as Darren Lockyer, Gene Miles, Des Morris, coach Kevin Walters, they believe in you so you need to go out there and execute and do what you do for the Broncos.
"He won't know whether he's a State of Origin player until he comes off that field after 80 minutes.
The Queensland Origin team will be announced live on www.qrl.com.au from 7pm on Tuesday night.