Why Oates stayed loyal to Brisbane
Queensland Origin star Corey Oates has revealed how close he came to quitting the Broncos to join archrivals the Cowboys ahead of Friday's derby blockbuster.
Oates is the hard-running fan favourite who will feature on the Broncos' left wing but the Maroons ace could have easily been running on to Suncorp Stadium for the NRL's greatest rivalry wearing Cowboys colours.
When he was off-contract last season, Oates thought long and hard about his future after fielding interest from several NRL rivals including Brisbane's 2015 grand-final nemesis the Cowboys.
The Broncos were also battling salary-cap pressures, fuelling fears they could lose Oates, but the 24-year-old ultimately signed a one-year contract, putting loyalty and premiership ambitions ahead of financial incentives.
"It was always close," Oates said of the tug of war for his signature.
"There wasn't really much (money) at the Broncos and when I said I was not afraid to leave, it probably surprised them a bit.
"In the end you have to stay loyal, but yes it was a pretty tough decision. I did think about it a lot.
"It just came down to where I feel I can win a premiership this year and I feel like the Broncos is the right place."
Oates has not forgotten his painful place in Queensland derby folklore.
In the epic Cowboys-Broncos 2015 grand final, Oates rushed off his wing in the final play of the game, allowing rival Kyle Feldt to score the last-minute try which levelled scores 16-all and sent the decider into extra time.
Cowboys champion Johnathan Thurston then kicked the winning field goal to break the hearts of Oates and his Broncos teammates.
"It's been a while now," Oates said of the Broncos' premiership loss.
"It's one of those things - we were so close but it wasn't to be.
"It takes a while to move on. You can't let it affect how your mindset is. We have been there and know how hard it is to get there. It makes you want to work harder to get that chance again."
While Oates is playing his 14th game against the Cowboys, new Broncos coach Anthony Seibold makes his derby debut at Suncorp Stadium.
"Suncorp is a special stadium," Seibold said. "Some of the derbies have been tremendous over the years so I'm looking forward to a good crowd."