Corey Parker clips Kevin Walters over brutal move towards Corey Oates for NRL opener

Oates previously admitted he'd contemplated retirement after battles with injuries and mental health.

Pictured left to right, Brisbane great Corey Parker and Corey Oates.
Brisbane great Corey Parker reckons Corey Oates could feel a little hard done by at the Broncos after being snubbed for the Las Vegas game. Pic: Getty

Brisbane Broncos great Corey Parker has taken aim at coach Kevin Walters' treatment of Corey Oates after overlooking the veteran winger for his side's blockbuster NRL opener against the Sydney Roosters in Las Vegas. Oates has been in and out of the starting side after struggling with various injuries and mental health concerns over the years but returned to full fitness in 2023.

However, the former Maroons Origin winger was left out of Brisbane's finals campaign and played no part in their grand final defeat to the Panthers. The high-profile snubs led to speculation Oates could be set for a move away from Brisbane, which only increased amid reports he felt "disrespected" by the club's initial contract offer. Oates eventually agreed to stay after signing a one-year extension.

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Parker says he spoke with Oates last year and the winger admitted he'd even contemplated giving the game away. The Broncos great says he thought it was a "ludicrous" idea and argued that Oates still had plenty more to offer. The 29-year-old ultimately moved past the idea of retiring and committed himself to the Broncos for another year, but Parker says the round one snub will be tough to take.

“I back Corey Oates to back himself,” Parker told SENQ Mornings. “But if you keep getting knocked down and keep getting chipped away, it does have an effect. I spoke in depth with Corey Oates before he re-signed, he was talking about potential retirement and I thought that was a ludicrous idea from himself, given the fact that he’s still got a few years left in his body I think and there’s still an opportunity to play.

“He’s obviously chosen Brisbane, but he’s been overlooked twice in two really big games, he’ll have to digest that himself. I think it is a long season, a lot of things can happen, there’s a lot of variables I understand that but the enormity of this game (Vegas opener) you want to be a part of it don’t you?”

Corey Oates overlooked for Broncos game in Vegas

Parker says all the signs during pre-season indicated Oates would win his starting spot back on the wing for 2024. With Herbie Farnworth leaving for the Dolphins and Selwyn Cobbo shifting into centre, the stage appeared to be set for Oates to return to the wing for Brisbane, with 2023 regular Jesse Arthurs on the other side. However, Walters has named young gun Deine Mariner in favour of Oates for the round one clash in Vegas, in a move that has shocked Parker.

“For Kevvie, well he’s shown his cards hasn’t he,” Parker added. “I actually thought Corey Oates, by all the noise that came out of the Broncos over the summer, particularly the pre-season, was Corey Oates was a lock on the wing, that’s how I saw it, that’s how I read it.

“Let me explain to you about the Round One team, it means a lot to be part of that team, it really solidifies the pre-season that you’ve had but more importantly where the coach thinks the team is going moving forward. In the space of two games he’s missed the Grand Final and he’s missed the opportunity to play, I reckon he’d be quite peeved off to be fair. But from Kevvie’s point of view, he’s obviously going for a bit of youth and speed, over size.”

Seen here, Corey Oates here in training with the Broncos.
Corey Oates is seen here in training with the Broncos. Pic: Getty

Parker has made headlines himself this week after saying he's got "no doubt" he's suffering from symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), following a brutal career in the NRL. A form of dementia that is caused by repeated head injuries, CTE can only be diagnosed after death and is becoming prevalent in athletes who played contact sports.

"I've got no doubt, I have no doubt whatsoever over my tenure as a rugby league player that I have symptoms, I have symptoms of CTE," Parker told SEN. "But it's something that you can't really get a grasp on until obviously post-mortem. You can try and manage different things, but the damage is done isn't it."

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