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Kevin Walters issued his team an ultimatum in a fiery pre-game motivational speech as Corey Oates revealed his own "kick up the bum" inspired his starring performance in his comeback game.

It was the pre-game address that almost inspired the greatest upset of the NRL season as images of nice guy Walters being as animated as we’ve ever seen him in the dressing sheds before Brisbane got the jump on Penrith before being run down in the second half at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night.

After a week where Walters dropped the club’s highest-paid player Anthony Milford to the Intrust Super Cup, the coach told his NRL team that it if they didn’t aim up then they should get out of his club.

"I think he is taking a different approach. I don’t know if I can repeat too much but he just said it’s time to have a go or get out," prop Matt Lodge said.

"I’m not surprised because it’s been building for a while hasn’t it.

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"You can’t just keep being positive and nice for too long it doesn’t work."

If they had a bit of Milford’s polish in attack they may have caused the boilover of the year as they fell agonisingly short of victory in the 20-12 defeat that came down to a two-point field goal and late try to halfback Nathan Cleary.

"When we had good ball we didn’t take our chances and put them under pressure so you know they did when they got down there and they end up winning the game," Lodge said.

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"That’s disappointing because we didn’t throw much on their try line.

"You know we tried hard, we defended well and we carried the ball strong but when it comes down to the polish and the nice plays we didn’t get it on."

While there were pleasing signs all over the field for Walters, perhaps the most positive aspect was the return to the NRL for Oates after the former Queensland winger's five weeks in exile in the Intrust Super Cup.

Oates, who has officially aborted his bid to switch to the back row, made an instant impact for the Broncos with three try-saving tackles and 17 runs for 164 metres to help kick-start Brisbane’s sets with good yardage.

"If I slacked off they probably score. I don’t want to miss my job, that is my job to cover and put that effort in so if I didn’t do that they probably score," Oates said of his try-saving feats.

"Those things you just have to do for the team, it doesn’t matter how tired you are just do your job and don’t miss it. I didn’t want to let them down.

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"It’s great to be back and I think there’s plenty of players that have been through it in their career and got a bit of a kick up the arse.

"I just went back and was lucky to get a shot this week and just wanted to put my best performance out there.

"It sucks when you try so hard and we just didn’t capitalise on those chances we had down the other end … we’ve got to be disappointed with our end of sets and attacking shape when down on their 20m line."

Oates predicted Milford would benefit from the demotion to the state league and return to the Telstra Premiership in the coming weeks sharper and more confident in his own game.

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"You just have to go back and just forget about the pressure. Just enjoy it and have fun," he said.

"He knows what he has to go and do and we all back him to do that and be back in our team as soon as he can.

"I’ve got nothing against the halves we had tonight but you know when you’ve got a Milford in your team full of confidence and having fun he is hard to stop."