Origin call has Coates floating on clouds

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It was the moment high-flying NRL winger Xavier Coates couldn't get his feet back on the ground quickly enough.

Coates was returning to Melbourne last Sunday after visiting family on the Gold Coast when he realised he'd forgotten to put his phone on flight mode.

What drew his attention to that was a notification of several missed calls from Queensland State of Origin coach Billy Slater.

"You know sometimes when you're up in the air, you get that little signal and then it all popped up at around like 8-8.30pm that I had five missed phone calls from Bill," Coates told AAP.

"I was halfway through the plane trip and I couldn't call him back.

"I had to wait, that was probably one of the most nerve-wracking things."

Once he'd landed Coates was able to ring Slater and receive confirmation he'd been picked for the Maroons' team for Wednesday's Origin opener against NSW in Sydney, heading back to Queensland the next day for camp.

Coates' selection was expected but not exactly assured with the wing positions among the most hotly contested in the Queensland line-up.

The 21-year-old was picked ahead of Corey Oates, who has recaptured some of his best form for Brisbane, while North Queensland's Murray Taulagi was another making a strong case.

In Coates' favour was a strong start to his career at Melbourne after making a switch from the Broncos at the end of last year.

In 11 games under Craig Bellamy, Coates has scored 11 tries - including a four-try haul in a 70-10 mauling of the Warriors on Anzac Day.

The 194cm Coates has also been at his best in aerial contests, something he credits to working with former Collingwood skipper Nick Maxwell, who passes on AFL tips and tricks to Storm players.

"He's done a really good job with helping us out and it was something I wanted to get better at," Coates said.

"I want to improve my game all the time, but definitely in the air I wanted to improve.

"What better way then to get a coach that coaches in the AFL to come and help us out?

"He's come in and done a fair bit of work with us at the Melbourne Storm. I'm just taking on board what he says."

Coates' improved aerial skills will be put to the test at Accor Stadium when he comes up against Daniel Tupou, the Sydney Roosters' winger having been picked by NSW ahead of incumbent Josh Addo-Carr partly due to his dominance in the air.

"We both have pretty similar attributes ... we've both got a fair bit of height and we both love an aerial contest," Coates said.

"If we do come up against each other it'll be, I reckon, a really good battle...

"I can't wait, any challenge that's put my way I'll go up against that."

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