Corey Oates is back in the Brisbane Broncos starting side after recovering from tendon tears in his hip and star lock Josh McGuire has made an emotive plea that the off-contract winger never leaves the club.
A month ago Oates's position in the side was far from certain after he made a public request to play in the back row but was told by Wayne Bennett that his position in the Broncos squad was either as a winger or on the bench.
Oates took his medicine and was impressive in the Broncos' wins over the North Queensland Cowboys and Wests Tigers and is now back in the starting side on the left wing for Saturday night's clash with the Newcastle Knights.
NRL.com understands the Broncos will sit down with Oates's management between rounds six and eight to discuss his future.
Oates is a knock-about country lad and a larger-than-life personality who is popular with his teammates and McGuire said he "definitely" wanted to see him re-signed by Brisbane.
"He's a great mate of mine and a fantastic football player and our team is definitely better with him in it. I'd hate to see him leave," McGuire said.
"Him and his partner (Tegan) are a big part of this club. We are a very tight-knit group. He's a football player and you've got to look after yourself and your family … but I definitely don't want him to go."
McGuire said Oates's impact would be vital against the Knights after a flat all-round display in the 26-14 loss to the Gold Coast Titans.
"He brings a lot to the start of our sets and he is a big part of our team," McGuire said.
"I know if I am a winger I am not wanting to be tackling Corey Oates. He brings a lot of stuff to the team that doesn't get measured by statistics and I am just glad to have a big body like that bringing it out of our own end."
McGuire said Oates would get his chance to play back row one day but now was not that time because he was "a world class winger" and fit the dynamic of the team best in that position.
McGuire was asked whether Oates' desire to play second row was because they got paid more than wingers but he scuppered that suggestion.
"In my opinion a good winger is just as important as any other position. It used to be that wingers were the forgotten men but they are so important to start your sets off and get you going, and under the high ball," he said.
"I'd rather play front row than wing so I think he's got the hard job. It is just [about] what a club is willing to pay a player."
McGuire also said dynamic forward Tevita Pangai jnr would be given "every opportunity" to prove his fitness after suffering a tear in the sheath surrounding the hamstring muscle against the Wests Tigers.