Queensland rivals drop out of Oates race
BRISBANE's hopes of retaining Corey Oates have received a boost with Queensland rivals the Cowboys and Titans insisting they will not enter a bidding war for the Origin ace.
The Broncos have kicked off negotiations with Oates, who despite his blistering form this season remains off-contract heading into Sunday's elimination final against the Dragons at Suncorp Stadium.
Oates, a Baralaba lad, has attracted offers of $700,000 a season, with Sydney-based NRL rivals the Bulldogs and Parramatta among the clubs to have expressed interest in the towering Broncos flyer.
The Cowboys have also been linked with Oates, but their signing of Broncos teammate Tom Opacic last week and impending acquisition of Ben Barba leaves no room in the salary-cap for the Maroons winger.
The Titans have the financial latitude for a backline purchase, but coach Garth Brennan is content with the Phillip Sami-Anthony Don wing alliance that has delivered 29 tries for the Coast this season.
"We won't be making an offer for Corey Oates," Brennan said.
"Corey is a wonderful player and I imagine he could attract big offers on the open market, but I'm very happy with our wingers and that's the position I see for Oates.
"Apparently he's keen to play back row but I think he's best suited on the wing.
"I also don't genuinely think he is a chance of leaving the Broncos, I'd be very surprised if Corey left given the success he's had there."
Oates hopes to finalise his future this month after last week hiring a new manager in leading agent George Mimis, who looks after the affairs of big-name Broncos duo Darius Boyd and Sam Thaiday.
The 23-year-old is on the verge of personal milestone on Sunday. Oates needs just one try against the Dragons to post his 19th four-pointer this year, which would eclipse his seasonal best haul of 18 from 22 games in 2016.
By signing a new deal with Brisbane, Oates, who has 78 career tries from 119 games, will be on track to become just the sixth Bronco in history to post a century of four-pointers.
Oates failed to train with the main squad on Thursday after suffering calf damage in his four-try haul against Manly last Sunday, but Broncos teammates are confident their in-form flanker will face the Dragons.
"He reckons he's a bit sore," hooker Andrew McCullough said.
"Corey's a hard one to put a measuring stick on (with his injuries), but he will be all right I think."
Lock Josh McGuire said he expected Oates and fellow casualty Tevita Pangai Jr (hamstring) to take the field against the Dragons.
"Tevita is fine," McGuire said. "It's just a bit of neural pain which has been the story of the season for 'T'.
"He doesn't train too much at the start of the week, but he'll be fine by the end of the week."