D Day looms for off-contract Broncos stars
A big three weeks looms for off-contract Brisbane Broncos stars Korbin Sims and Corey Oates as the club prepares to meet with their management.
The Broncos have told GS Sports Management, which acts for the pair, that they will open contract discussions between round six and round eight.
Front-rower Sims was at the Broncos as a teenager and played under 20s at the club before leaving for the Newcastle Knights.
Sims had a strong season in 2017 after being brought back to Brisbane by Wayne Bennett, but does not want to leave again.
"Being off contract is never easy," Sims said.
"You’ve got to do the right things to get that extra contract. "Ultimately my goal is to stay here for the rest of my career."
Sims is one of several star forwards off-contract this year.
Tevita Pangai Jnr will also become a free agent at season's end and Newcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown has already signalled his interest in bringing the wrecking ball forward back to his hometown, while recognising the Broncos won't let him go without a fight.
Matt Lodge is another prop without a deal secured beyond 2018.
Sims has played four of five games off the bench this year and recognised he didn't fire when given his one chance to start.
"There was a time there when I got my chance to start [against the Gold Coast Titans] and didn’t do too well, so I’ve been moved back to the bench," he said.
"I am trying to play some decent football at the moment and lock down my spot coming off the bench."
The Oates situation is a balancing act for both the player and the Broncos.
The robust winger wants to stay in Brisbane where he is settled with wife Tegan, but is not averse to making a move.
Oates asked to play back-row in the pre-season but Bennett, who allowed him to train there, decided wing was his best position for the team.
The 23-year-old has not kicked stones and has embraced the wing where he has made a habit of scoring freakish tries and bringing the ball back with menace.
Five-time Broncos premiership-winning winger Michael Hancock said Oates is facing a situation he did at the end of his own career when he played back-row off the bench a couple of years later than he wanted to.
"In 1998 and 1999 I played wing but in 2000 we had Lote Tuqiri and Wendell Sailor so I came off the bench and played second-row or where I was needed," Hancock told NRL.com.
"I probably wished I'd made that switch a few years earlier but we had Darren Smith, Brad Thorn, Peter Ryan, Gordie Tallis…and there wasn't a spot there.
"If you look at our stocks now we have a lot of second-rowers and edge forwards so if we put Corey there we have to find another winger. At the moment, with the makeup of our team, wing is his spot."
Hancock said Oates' time in the forwards may well come at the Broncos when several of the current back-rowers move on. Whether he wants to wait that long remains to be seen, but Hancock said he did not believe his market value was diminished on the wing.
"We all get caught up thinking guys that handle the ball the most get paid the most, but wingers are an integral part of your team now with how much kicking games have improved, and if you haven’t got guys that can [defuse kicks] well you are in a lot of trouble," he said.
"Corey is a presence on the wing. He's fast, he's strong and people don't want to kick the ball to him. Some of the tries he's scored are up there with the Melbourne pair.
"He has the perfect mentor in [father-in-law] Gene Miles because Geno' went from the centres to the second-row so he has all the people around him he needs to guide him in the right direction."