Why Oates shift could prove Maroons’ biggest asset
DARIUS Boyd is confident Corey Oates' potential positional switch won't harm his chances of being selected for Queensland, and actually believes it could prove a boom for the Maroons come Origin time.
All eyes will be on Wayne Bennett's teamsheet when he names his round one side on Tuesday, specifically where Oates is selected for the season opener.
He's spent most of his 60-game NRL career on the wing for Brisbane but has been training to move infield and play in the backrow in 2018.
Whether that happens straight away or not remains to be seen.
But what will be interesting is where he gets selected in Kevin Walters' Origin team come May.
He's played all four of his Origin games to date on the wing, but could now be selected in the backrow or on the bench.
Boyd believes Oates would make the perfect bench utility, given his newfound ability to play on a flank or closer to the action.
"I think he could be a massive asset as a utility in Origin," Boyd said at the NRL launch on Thursday.
"Someone who can cover in the backs and also go play in the forwards ... typically when you carry a little guy on the bench you probably put them on for the sake of it, and don't really use them.
"To have an extra forward, but someone who can cover some different positions would be a good move."
Queensland used Michael Morgan and Ben Hunt as their bench utilities last series. NSW used Jack Bird.
The Maroons typically like to carry a spare playmaker on the bench, but could include Oates as a backrower and extra cover in case of injury in the outside backs.
Bennett has kept his cards close to his chest when discussing his possible round one team, which take on the Dragons on Thursday night.
Even his captain Boyd is unsure where Oates will be named.
"I'm not too sure. He's been trialling in the backrow but he's also been trialling on the wing too," Boyd said.
"It's a credit to him, he's really worked hard over pre-season and showed he can play in the backrow.
"I guess it's something that him and Wayne have to work together on because he probably he is our best winger too.
"Whether he starts on the bench and comes into the forwards, or starts on the wing and then goes into the backrow, I'm not too sure."
Boyd said young talents Jamayne Isaako and Jonus Pearson were on standby to play on the wing if Oates is moved into the forward pack.
Boyd, meantime, is confident he will be fit to take the field next week.
The skipper will overcome a hamstring injury in time to be named at fullback.