Oates on track for Round 1
BRONCOS winger Corey Oates is on track to play the 2020 season opener as he continues to recover from a serious leg infection that hospitalised him for nine days last month.
The Maroons representative has returned to full-contact training for the first time since contracting a leg infection in a small cut on his shin over the Christmas break.
It is understood the cut came from a knock Oates received during the 2019 season. It became infected over the break and forced him to go to hospital.
Watch the 2020 NRL Nines tournament LIVE & On-Demand on KAYO. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
The club is hopeful their star winger will be fit for the season-opener against the Cowboys in Townsville - but have a handy replacement in Xavier Coates ready to take his spot if needed.
At 102kg and 194cm, the 18-year-old Coates is a similar size to the 105kg and 192cm Oates.
Oates is currently the Broncos' leading winger-- scoring 13 tries in 22 games last year - but is racing to prove his fitness in time for Round 1.
His hospitalisation caused him to lose weight and strength in his left leg, with doctors warning there may be a lump over the area for the rest of the season.
Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold wants Oates to play in the Broncos' final trial match on February 29 to assess his fitness.
"The plan for Oatesy is to play him in the last trial against the Titans," Seibold said.
"He was going great guns prior to Christmas and then he was in hospital for nine or 10 days, and literally only just started back at full training. Last Thursday was his first session back.
"It took a fair bit of gas out of him and he lost a fair bit of weight.
"He's working hard to get back to his playing weight.
"It'll take a bit of time so we want to be smart about that and give him some time against the Titans. It's only three weeks away now."
Seibold said Oates had been "really positive" around the club despite being ruled out for the NRL Nines in Perth and the club's first two trial matches.
"He's been fantastic around the group," Seibold said.
"He was extremely fit before Christmas - that's why it was such a shame for him to spend that amount of time in hospital.
"I'm really happy with how's he progressing and he's a big in for us.
"Oatesy, when he's at his best, is like a rep player. He's played Origin. He was a little bit inconsistent for us last year but I've been really happy with how he's been at training.
"We're going to take it easy with him."