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Second-row pedigree can help Oates make switch a success

Seven years ago Corey Oates was one of the game's best young back-rowers and now he's switching back to his favourite position, his former coaches have revealed why he can be a success.

The 25-year-old was mostly a second-rower while at St Brendan's College in Yeppoon and was named in the back row in the 2013 NYC team of the year after a stellar season with the Broncos.

Oates, who has become one of the NRL's best wingers and represented Queensland eight times, is set to get his long-desired crack at starting in the back row for Brisbane against Manly on Thursday night in Gosford.

In the final year of Wayne Bennett’s tenure in 2018, Oates would front media conferences and speak about his desire to switch from wing to the pack, where he played for most of 2014 in the NRL. Bennett would shoot the request down each time but Oates kept dropping the hint.

Now it's a case of right time and right place for Oates with rookie back-rowers Ethan Bullemor and Jamil Hopoate dropped following the 59-0 drubbing at the hands of the Roosters.

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Former Broncos NYC coach Craig Hodges was a key figure in Oates’s development in 2013 and said he had the desire and the ability to be a success against Manly.

"You see the way he runs the ball on kick-returns, well that is the way he runs the ball on the edge. He is a real handful to tackle," Hodges told NRL.com.

"Oatesy’s challenge has always been to do it effort-on-effort but in the 20s they couldn’t handle him.

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"He bounced between second row and centre that year for us and played pretty much the same role in either position before making his NRL debut that year.

"He is actually a really good hitter defensively as well. When guys are near him he can drive the shoulder in, no problem.

"There is a heap of big, strong and powerful wingers in today’s game but there is not a heap of them that would be dying to play in the second row but Oatesy has wanted to for a really long time.

"It is up to him now but he will cause some real grief for halves and back-rowers on an edge trying to tackle him."

In his final two years at St Brendan’s College he played in the back row under coach Terry Hansen, who said Oates had the capacity to forge a potent combination with five-eighth Anthony Milford.

"Corey has always had the ability to run a really good line so I can see him being a real handful with the ball," Hansen told NRL.com.

"He can cause some havoc if Milford can give him the ball at the right time.

"He wasn’t scared of the contact and prepared to run at one hundred miles an hour so for me he was an ideal back-rower.

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"Moving in from the wing to the back row on the edge, it is not as though he won’t know how to do it. So long as his motor hangs in there I can see him doing well."

Broncos coach Anthony Seibold will play Oates and Joe Ofahangaue in the back row with 2014 premiership winner Ben Te’o coming off the bench.

"With injuries to our two starting back-rowers [Alex Glenn and David Fifita] we need to have a look at adding experience there and Oates has come through as a back-rower," Seibold said.

"He has always wanted to play back row and I feel as though he can do the job there."