The Courier-Mail

Op­er­a­tion Oates suc­cess

- PETER BADEL

BRON­COS sen­sa­tion Corey Oates has sought the coun­sel of skip­per Justin Hodges to help his bat­tle-scarred body sur­vive the rigours of the NRL.

Oates (pic­tured) is Bris­bane’s most ex­cit­ing back-row prospect, but the 106kg hulk con­cedes his ca­reer will be cut short if he does not look af­ter his im­pos­ing frame.

Oates un­der­lined his rare po­ten­tial last round, dis­play­ing the speed of a winger and the power of a for­ward to stun Souths with a 95m solo try.

But be­hind the on-field hype is the off-field trauma of Oates hav­ing re­quired nine oper­a­tions – all by his 21st birth­day next month.

Af­ter 50 games for the Bron­cos, Oates has un­der­gone oper­a­tions on both shoul­ders, both wrists and both knees.

His left knee has been op­er­ated on twice, leav­ing Oates feel­ing the pain of worn car­ti­lage he must man­age for the rest of his ca­reer.

En­ter Hodges.

The vet­eran cen­tre read­ily ad­mits he failed to safe­guard his body in his early years at Red Hill, an at­ti­tude that caught up with Hodges as he bat­tled in­ces­sant leg in­juries into his 30s.

Now, with Oates hav­ing the po­ten­tial to be­come one of the great­est for­wards of his gen­er­a­tion, Hodges is de­ter­mined for his young co­hort not to make the same mis­takes.

“I have to make sure I look af­ter my body now,” Oates said. “I still have a fair few years left in me, although the boys won’t back me on that com­ment with my body.

“Re­hab has be­come the key for me.

‘‘In the past, I never looked af­ter my body but this year I’ve started to look af­ter my­self.

“Hodgo has be­come a good ex­am­ple.

‘‘He keeps telling me that I have to look af­ter my body now be­cause it will ben­e­fit me later on in my ca­reer.

“Hope­fully his ad­vice, and look­ing af­ter my­self, will help ex­tend my ca­reer.”

Oates is of­ten com­pared to Bron­cos back-row leg­end Brad Thorn, as he stood at 195cm and tipped the scales at 116kg.

At 192cm and 106kg, Oates has the po­ten­tial to grow, but is re­luc­tant to bulk up given the bat­ter­ing his body has taken.

“That’s it, I’m done, I don’t want to get heav­ier,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m happy with the size I’m at.

“The knees weren’t mas­sive surg­eries but the car­ti­lage has been cleaned out. It’s a bit painful some days. I play a game and I wake up the next day with my knees aching.”

Oates was sur­prised both by his 95m solo try and his se­lec­tion on the wing in­stead of Lach­lan Maranta, Bris­bane’s top tryscorer in 2015.

“I do feel for Lachy,” he said. “I didn’t ex­pect to play against Souths but I’m mak­ing the most of my op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“I didn’t ex­pect to score that try. At first, I looked for a bloke to pass it to, but there was no one around so I backed my­self and held him (Souths full­back Dy­lan Walker) off to score.”

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