Oates’ re­turn ideal for fi­nals push

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - RIKKI- LEE ARNOLD

COREY Oates’ re­turn to the foot­ball field to­day could be a bless­ing for the star winger in more ways than one.

Bris­bane coach Wayne Ben­nett con­firmed af­ter yes­ter­day’s fi­nal train­ing run that Oates would make his highly- an­tic­i­pated come­back from a staph in­fec­tion in tonight’s derby show­down with the Ti­tans.

The tow­er­ing back has been out of the game since late June af­ter he was hos­pi­talised from the ill­ness and his re­turn is a wel­come one.

But Bris­bane’s high- per­for­mance man­ager Jeremy Hick­mans said the dis­cov­ery of the in­fec­tion could solve a few of Oates’ prob­lems, re­veal­ing the young gun has suf­fered from hip prob­lems all sea­son.

“It’s al­most been good for him in a way as it might ex­plain the is­sues he’s gone through around his hips the past year,” Hick­mans said. “It’s re­stricted his per­for­mance. “It’s al­most an easy an­swer to what’s been go­ing on.”

Hick­mans and Ben­nett both said Oates’ re­turn had come a week or two ear­lier than ex­pected, but he had re­sponded well phys­i­cally and men­tally.

He was given the all- clear to re­turn to train­ing late last week and Hick­mans said be­ing around his team­mates had been a boost for him.

While the club and med­i­cal staff will have to keep a close eye on Oates mov­ing for­ward, it is no doubt a pos­i­tive that he is back to help with their fi­nals push.

“Once he got those blood re­sults back and got back on the field with all the boys, it ob- vi­ously helped him a lot,” Hick­mans said. “When you’re in the team en­vi­ron­ment, you can’t whinge too much or feel sorry for your­self.

“A lot of it has been about the men­tal side and hav­ing the con­fi­dence to come back when you go through some­thing like that.

“We don’t re­ally know where ( the in­fec­tion) came from in the first place and that’s the hard thing ( mov­ing for­ward). It ap­peared and no one can give us a real good an­swer as to why.

“We have to be care­ful but we’ll go along as nor­mal and keep an eye on him.

“It shouldn’t come back and I am touch­ing wood ev­ery time I say that … he’ll be very con­scious too.”

David Mead will drop out of the 17 to ac­com­mo­date Oates, with no other changes ex­pected.

Bron­cos winger Corey Oates.

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