Corey Oates walked away from Brisbane Broncos training on Wednesday to his car with a bulked-up frame so impressive it appeared he had been bench-pressing Mallee Bulls.
His powerful, athletic 192cm and 105kg build is just one reason why Matt Gillett believes the 23-year-old's determination to make the transition from wing to the back-row can be a success.
"I think Oatesy can turn into a great back-rower," Gillett said. "He has definitely got the size and speed. He is just starting to learn that role at the moment. He is training well and we’ll just have to see how it pans out for him."
Oates scored a try after he came off the bench to play in the back-row in the trial win over the Gold Coast Titans last Saturday and has been named in the same position for Saturday's trial against the PNG Hunters in Port Moresby.
"The thing I have noticed is that (Oates) is asking a lot of questions of the coaching staff and players," Gillett said. "He is getting a lot of feedback, he is willing to learn and that is a good sign."
All things being equal, Oates’s schoolboy mentors in Central Queensland believe such is his explosive power and speed, he could have competed at the upcoming Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in decathlon.
There is a legend in Rockhampton of Oates as a teenager hurling a javelin out of an athletics arena.
St Brendan’s College head of school Matt Couper said Oates could easily have been a decathlete at the Commonwealth Games.
"He would have handled the javelin, high jump, 100m and 400m," he said.
"He broke his thumb pretty badly in Year 12 and ran the 100m with a cast on in a time that would have seen him go to state trials but by that stage he well and truly had his sights set on playing footy.
"Corey also walked up to the javelin once at an athletics carnival and went ‘bang’. He threw it and it just went for miles. It went so much further than the next best, and all with virtually no training.
“He was a clean hitter of the cricket ball and a good bowler who could have been playing T20 cricket, AFL, you name it. He was just a very gifted athlete. The only thing that would have hindered him was that he was casual about everything, a typical country kid."
Oates's schoolboy coach Terry Hansen played him as a back-rower in the side at St Brendan’s and said he could return to the position where he started his NRL career.
"When he brings the ball back off the wing he pushes into gaps and he is a handful, so there is no reason he can’t do the same on an edge," Hansen said.
“Corey can find his front well and he is a good defender. The one thing that might initially be a challenge is the workload, but the rest of it I can’t see a problem with.
"I played him back-row because of his scope and he scored tries there no-one else could because of the lines he ran."