Oates’ return ideal for finals push
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.