Gotchya ... Josh Morris of the Blues is tackled by big Queenslander Corey Oates (left). Photo: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts.
Gotchya ... Josh Morris of the Blues is tackled by big Queenslander Corey Oates (left). Photo: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Corey Oates all smiles on his Maroons debut

ROOKIE Queensland winger Corey Oates should have been shaking in his boots.

Instead, he gazed around ANZ Stadium's sea of blue smiling as if he had just won Lotto.

Bemused teammate Johnathan Thurston, lining up for his 34th straight Origin game, looked at Oates as if to say "hey Corey, you're about to play the toughest, fastest, hardest game of your life, why are you smiling?".

"When I walked onto the ground I just looked around the stadium and got goosebumps, they were popping up all over me," said the young winger.

"I don't know why, but I just started smiling to myself.

"JT (Thurston) looked over at me and said 'this is it' ... I just couldn't believe I was there."

Oates didn't have to wait long before rival winger Blake Ferguson welcomed him to Origin with a sneaky elbow in a tackle which drew blood.

"It was the first run and I copped an elbow," said the 21-year-old from Biloela, still smiling an hour after the gritty 6-4 win.

"It was a great start to Origin but I expected it, I knew it was coming my way."

His first words to journalists in the dressing room after the game were: "I'm knackered".

"That's the toughest game of footy I have ever played (including last year's grand final).

"The guys told me to expect that, it was unbelievable.

To his credit, Oates admitted he "messed up" a potential try after left-centre Greg Inglis made a break and he wasn't in a position to take a pass that could have led to a try on debut.

"I didn't know that was on," said the 21-year-old Biloela Bullet.

"I just wasn't ready.

"You have to be ready, it's Origin. That was my mistake and I will learn from it."

One of the first things Oates did after the game was give his mum, Janette, a big hug.

"I got a bit emotional out on the ground with the boys and when I saw mum, a tear or two may have come out," he said.

"It was pretty emotional for mum and dad who came down to Sydney for the game, I was really happy for them."



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