Broncos fuming over 'awful' NRL hit from Scott Drinkwater on Corey Oates

Corey Oates will have surgery on a broken jaw and miss the next month of NRL at least after a hit from Scott Drinkwater.

Two shots highlight the moment Corey Oates was hit by Scott Drinkwater.
Brisbane's Corey Oates was left with a broken jaw after a shoulder charge from North Queensland's Scott Drinkwater. Pictures: Channel 9/Fox League

North Queensland Cowboys fullback Scott Drinkwater is staring down the barrel of a potentially lengthy stint on the sidelines after a nasty clash that left Broncos rival Corey Oates with a broken jaw. Oates was taken to emergency after the match, and is expected to miss at least the next month of NRL matches, possibly more.

The incident left the Broncos fuming, with both coach Kevin Walters and captain Adam Reynolds not happy with the referee's decision to sin-bin Drinkwater instead of sending him off. The Cowboys fullback was coming across to prevent Oates from scoring, remaining upright and collecting him square in the jaw with his shoulder.

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Reynolds was also protesting that there should have been a penalty try awarded, an argument that had support from commentator Cooper Cronk. Those pleas fell on deaf ears but it didn't matter for Brisbane, who eventually claimed a 28-16 victory in the Queensland derby.

The referee's microphone picked up audio of Reynolds making the case for a penalty try. “But he’s in the act of scoring and he has hit him in the head," the skipper could be heard saying.

While it's a certainly that Drinkwater's hit will be looked at by the NRL judiciary, opinions were divided on exactly how culpable he had been. Some suggested the hit was much closer to an accident than anything malicious, with Drinkwater simply making a poor attempt to stop Oates from crossing for a try.

Fox League's Michael Ennis suggested Drinkwater had simply 'panicked' when Oates came charging towards the try line. His colleague Greg Alexander said it would likely be ruled a shoulder charge, but said there was 'no force' from Drinkwater as he was standing his ground.

“I think Drinkwater just held his ground and turned his shoulder for impact,” Alexander said. “Would I class that as a shoulder charge? I guess so.

"I suppose it’s a shoulder charge because he turned sideways. End of story. There was no force in Drinkwater, he stood his ground and thought ‘here comes a 6 foot three 100kg winger, I’m going to brace for impact’.”

Cowboys coach Todd Payten was of a similar opinion, labelling the incident an 'accident'. “He had one foot on the deck, he had no intent to make a collision with the body, it’s certainly an accident,” Payten said. “The kid’s just doing his best to stop a try.”

Broncos seeing red after Corey Oates suffers broken jaw

However both Reynolds and Walters were fuming that Drinkwater had been allowed to play on after the sin-bin when their own player was staring down a month or more on the sidelines to recover. Walters replied 'probably not' when asked if the sin-bin had been a sufficient penalty, while Reynolds touched on the long-term ramifications for the Broncos.

“We lose a player for the entire game, a number of weeks most probably, whether 10 minutes is justifiable, I don’t think so,” the halfback said.

The incident prompted plenty of commentary online, with prominent Twitter account NRL Physio comparing Drinkwater's hit to the one that got Cronulla's Wade Graham in strife back in round one. Tipping Oates to be sidelined for at least 4-6 weeks, he said it had been a 'dangerous' move from Drinkwater.

"Situations like this is why the Wade Graham tackle from last week is an easy sin bin/suspension as well," he wrote. "In that situation it didn’t result in injury, but an upright tackler leaving their feet is a technique that carries a high degree of danger to the ball carrier."

Oates scored a career-best 20 tries last season and returned to Queensland's State of Origin side after a three-year absence to play a crucial role in the series decider. Walters said Oates was "a big loss".

"He is just tough. He is an old pro Oatesy, from way back," he said. "He is very reliable with his carries out of yardage, he's a good finisher and good under the high ball."

Reece Walsh ran riot in his debut for the Broncos, having a hand in three tries either side of half-time to pace his new team through the 12-point victory. He sealed the deal for the home side with a 76th-minute try to cap a magic Friday night.

Reece Walsh.
Reece Walsh played a starring role for the Broncos in his highly-anticipated debut for the club. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

"If that's his first game it's great for everyone involved," Walters said of Walsh. "It was a great start for him. He has good skills in his kitbag but it's only early for Reece. We brought him back to do some of the things he did. I'm very proud."

In addition to Drinkwater, North Queensland will wait nervously for the match review committee findings with centre Peta Hiku on report for a crusher tackle on Walsh, as well as winger Kyle Feldt for high contact on Walsh in a separate incident.

with AAP

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