The stage is set for a State of Origin audition to remember as Queensland hopeful Corey Oates fires up for an NRL clash against the man who took his Maroons jersey – Valentine Holmes.
Brisbane winger Oates admits he let his Origin I snub affect his form but is now more determined than ever to regain his Queensland spot as he prepares for Saturday’s clash with Holmes’ Cronulla.
Holmes will don the No.1 jersey for the Sharks but it’s his No.2 Maroons jumper Oates has in his sights.
Oates played the last of his four Origins in game one last year before being replaced by Holmes.
The Sharks flyer has not looked back since, scoring five tries in three games for Queensland.
After not getting a courtesy call from Queensland coach Kevin Walters about his Origin I snub, Oates said he was fired up to provide a not-so-subtle reminder to Maroons selectors when he lines up against Holmes.
Queensland’s team for June 24’s Origin II clash in Sydney will be named on Monday.
“I didn’t get anything (phone call from Walters). It lit a fire in my belly,” Oates said.
“I might have let it get to me too much.
“But this week I will be clearing my mind and offering a lot more.”
Oates admitted he didn’t help his Maroons cause in the Broncos’ last-round loss to Melbourne but hadn’t given up on realising his Origin dream again.
“Just because I have played four games, it doesn’t mean I want to just forget about it. Every week I am trying to do my best and trying to get into contention for Origin,” Oates said.
“Last week I don’t think I did myself any favours but this week I will be focusing on getting back to my game.”
Holmes again showcased his brilliance with a stunning 85m intercept try in Queensland’s 22-12 Origin I loss to NSW in Melbourne.
Oates still reckons he has a sniff of Origin II.
“I feel like we are very different players. Val is an electric winger who can slide through gaps. My gaps have to be a little bit bigger,” Oates laughed.
“But I try and create my own thing, get that go-forward for the team.”
Oates has one less rival for a Maroons backline spot after Brisbane captain Darius Boyd’s surprise representative retirement this week.
“I congratulate him on a wonderful rep career. I think he will be (considered) one of the best players to have ever played for Queensland or Australia,” Oates said of 28 Origin veteran Boyd.
“It took us all by surprise. We knew nothing of it but I wish him the best.”
Australian Associated Press