Corey Oates has been put on notice to return to his best club form after coach Anthony Seibold said he gave the Broncos winger "a kick up the backside" for two poor displays during the State of Origin period.
The 24-year-old Maroons flyer was one of Queensland’s best in the 26-20 loss to NSW in the Origin decider where he ran for 223 metres from 18 runs, many of them into the teeth of the Blues defence.
Seibold wants to see more of that at club level after two disappointing performances from his star winger against the Eels and Knights.
Oates was one of Brisbane’s best in the opening nine rounds where he scored nine tries and averaged nearly five busts and 167 metres.
He conceded during Origin camp he was unhappy with his handling in recent weeks and was working overtime with Allan Langer to correct that deficiency.
Seibold wondered whether Oates had been "distracted with the Origin stuff" but said he needed to be better in the run home to the finals.
"We rested him against the Titans and then I thought Parra and the Newcastle game were write-offs for Corey," Seibold said.
Broncos v Warriors - Round 17
"In actual fact I gave him a bit of a kick up the backside for those performances, so he needs to be better. He knows what he needs to do and I expect him to finish the season strongly.
"I think Corey was really good early for us. He was making lots of metres, making lots of line breaks and was one of the leading try scorers in the competition.
"The challenge for Corey has been over this Origin period. His two worst performances were against Parramatta and Newcastle and everybody saw that. I had a really good conversation with him yesterday and he knows he has to improve when he comes back and plays for us."
The Broncos trained at Suncorp Stadium in a closed session on Friday morning for their captain’s run before the first of nine crucial games before the finals. Seibold said his intention is for all the Origin players in Oates, David Fifita and Joe Ofahengaue to back up against the Warriors but no decision had been made yet.
"We haven’t given up on this year in any shape or form," Seibold said.
"The guys showed that last week [in the 24-22 win over the Sharks]. We are one win out of the top eight with nine rounds to go and we have six of those nine games at home.
"We will get what we deserve. Whether we are good enough or not we will see in the next nine weeks."
Seibold said the Warriors would be a handful on Saturday night with both teams on 14 competition points. The Broncos beat the Warriors 8-2 in New Zealand earlier in the season in what was their best defensive performance of the year by a considerable margin.
"With the Warriors we know what we are going to get,” Seibold said.
"They make the most line breaks in the competition and their back five make the most metres in the competition. They are third in the competition for offloads and bring plenty of threats so defensively we are going to have to really stand up.
I thought Parra and the Newcastle game were write-offs for Corey.Anthony Seibold
"If we are going to win the game it is going to be off the back of our defence."
Seibold said he was confident that Darius Boyd would steady the ship and do an outstanding job in his switch to five-eighth, with Anthony Milford returning from a knee injury at fullback.
"You saw what Tedesco did back at fullback [for NSW] the other night. I am not comparing Milf to Tedesco but fullbacks these days have to have that threat, not just with good ball, but out of yardage as well," he said.
"I think Milf’s speed and footwork can ask some questions of middle forwards."