Oates' absence hurting for Broncos
The Brisbane Broncos are fast discovering the importance of winger Corey Oates, with the 21-year-old's absence in recent weeks leaving his side without the firepower that has seen him score nine tries and make 11 line breaks this season.
Oates did not play in three of the five games that Brisbane have lost in 2016, and played in less than half of the Broncos' one-point loss to the North Queensland Cowboys earlier in the year.
Brisbane were cruising to victory in that game when Oates suffered a concussion late in the first half and didn't return to the field.
With Oates rested against the Warriors last weekend after playing in his first State of Origin game, his replacement Lachlan Maranta had a less than memorable game on Brisbane's left wing – making two errors and running for just 48 metres.
To put that in perspective, Oates runs for an average of 128 metres per game and his run metres coming out of his own end are invaluable for Brisbane.
The Broncos have now lost three in a row and Oates says watching his side's 18-point loss to the Warriors in Round 13 hurt.
"I hate watching footy, especially when it's the boys," Oates said.
"I just sat at home frustrated knowing that I couldn't do much about it. You're helpless when you are just sitting there in your living room.
"It's been a tough couple of weeks but hopefully we can get back on a winning streak and get back to where we were."
A refreshed Oates is now looking forward to returning to Suncorp Stadium, a venue he hasn't played at since Round 10.
Brisbane face the Canberra Raiders at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night in what looms as a huge clash for both sides, with a place in the top four up for grabs.
Oates said although he probably could have backed up after Origin, he was happy to be feeling 100 per cent leading into the Round 14 clash with Canberra.
"I really enjoyed a couple of days off and I'm feeling pretty fresh now," he said.
"When I came off the field on Origin night I thought it would be tough to play a couple of days later.
"I think the boys were a bit filthy that a winger got the game off.
"I was pretty sore on Thursday and Friday, but I woke up on Saturday feeling alright and I think I would have been okay to play."