The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

Call on Oates to fi­nals run

- PETER BADEL @badel_c­mail

WAYNE Ben­nett faces one of the tough­est calls of his ca­reer, with Corey Oates and Lach­lan Maranta locked in a Bron­cos se­lec­tion bat­tle that could cost one man a premier­ship ring.

Ben­nett hailed Oates as a po­ten­tial X-fac­tor in the fi­nals af­ter his 95m solo try in Bris­bane’s 47-12 away win over Souths on Thurs­day night.

The 105kg util­ity back from Biloela caught a kick ric­o­chet and sprinted 65m be­fore us­ing a bru­tal right-hand fend to hold off Souths ri­val Dy­lan Walker and crash over.

Oates’ im­pact threat­ens to palm Maranta into touch, with the duo to vie for the left-wing berth for Bris­bane’s up­com­ing fi­nals cam­paign.

Maranta, 23, is Bris­bane’s lead­ing tryscorer in 2015 with 15 from 19 games and also has the most line-breaks (15), but was rested a fort­night ago af­ter a 32-6 win over the Dragons.

That opened the door for Oates, who charged for a ca­reer-best 227m in the Bron­cos’ maul­ing of the Rab­bitohs.

Ben­nett has used Oates off the bench at times this sea­son and could pos­si­bly rel­e­gate him to ac­com­mo­date Maranta on the left flank in the play­offs.

But af­ter watch­ing Oates tear through the pre­miers at Syd­ney’s Al­lianz Sta­dium, Ben­nett could be re­luc­tant to change a win­ning team.

Should the Bron­cos break their nine-year ti­tle drought with­out Maranta, it would be a crush­ing out­come given his hot form this sea­son.

Ben­nett moved to play down the hype swirling around Oates but said the 20-year-old was a spe­cial tal­ent.

“Don’t give him a wrap, don’t let him out of the cage,” Ben­nett said when asked about Oates’ try that rocked Souths.

“He’s a won­der­ful ath­lete, you just have to look at him.

“It’s as good a try as you will see. No one was ex­pect­ing it, least of all the op­po­si­tion.

“Corey is play­ing well and we need him to play well. He makes a dif­fer­ence.’’

Bron­cos skip­per Justin Hodges, a mem­ber of Bris­bane’s 2006 premier­ship team, warned the squad not to be sat­is­fied with the thrash­ing of South Syd­ney.

“The pleas­ing thing is we are win­ning the games we need to,” he said.

“We will face a lot of chal­lenges over the next few weeks so we have to make sure we do the lit­tle things right.’’

Ben­nett re­cently told The Sun­day Mail how some home truths dur­ing the pre-sea­son had ex­tracted the best from Oates.

“Corey has got it all but he needs to be more per­sis­tent,” Ben­nett said.

“Corey needed to change his at­ti­tude to some things.

‘‘I didn’t or­der him to get off the drink but I said ‘Be­ing on the drink is not go­ing to get you to where you want to get’. “It was his de­ci­sion. ‘‘I’ve no­ticed a changed in him in the past few months.’’

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