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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