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Slow-starting Broncos can bolt into top four: Oates

They sit outside the top eight at the halfway point of the Telstra Premiership season yet winger Corey Oates believes the Broncos have come far enough under coach Anthony Seibold to push for a top-four finish.

Three wins on the trot had Brisbane primed to push into the top eight at the halfway mark yet they suffered a double setback against the Titans last Sunday, losing 26-18 and halfback Tom Dearden to injury in the process.

Only a one-point differential is keeping the Broncos outside of the top eight through 13 rounds, their opponents on Saturday night, Parramatta, holding them to ninth position.

The Eels have won three of their four games since the opening of Bankwest Stadium and Oates knows any potential charge towards the top four needs to start sooner rather than later.

"Being so close to the eight everyone should be really confident and have that belief we can still do it, that we can make that top four," said Oates, who missed the loss to the Titans after playing for Queensland in Origin I.

"Every team wants to make the top four. I know I'll be pushing for that and I hope everyone else will be.

"This is the part of the year where we need to get those wins. We've made it hard for ourselves but I feel that we do still have the team and I'm still very confident in where we're going."

Eels v Broncos - Round 14

The loss of Dearden for up to six weeks opens the door for Sean O’Sullivan to earn his NRL debut this week and lay claim to the No.7 jersey for the foreseeable future.

It’s another disruption to a team that seemed to have turned the corner with a three-game winning streak but Oates is adamant that the young side has had long enough to become accustomed to Seibold’s coaching style.

"We're halfway through so by now we should be gelling pretty well together,” Oates said of the late coaching upheaval.

"No matter what happened in the pre-season by now we should have all of our shapes and little plays working fine for us now.

"We've had plenty of time, we've trained enough. Everyone has been together long enough.

"We've had a few young fellas come through but it wasn't a massive shuffle. They've all been in the system long enough now.

"I still have so much belief in us. Even though we're young there's a lot of talent and everyone works hard."

Brisbane have won four of their past six clashes with the Eels but are entering new territory at Bankwest Stadium in their 796th premiership match.

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Brisbane have suffered 32-point defeats in both of their past two games in Sydney and Oates knows the positive affect their new home ground has had on the Eels.

"They've turned it on before at this ground so they're going to throw everything at us and we have to be on our A game if we're going to beat them," Oates said.

"We have to prepare well each week, have the right mindset and just be confident and back ourselves."

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