Bennett’s warning to NRL rivals: Hands off Oates
BRONCOS coach Wayne Bennett has issued a hands-off edict to NRL rivals amid revelations Corey Oates' management is shopping the matchwinning Brisbane winger on the open market.
Brisbane's Queensland rivals, the Cowboys, and Parramatta are circling Oates as a messy management dispute creates confusion over his future at the Broncos.
Off-contract at season's end, Oates is attempting to sever ties with his current agency GS Sports Management, whose agreement with the star Broncos winger expires in mid-August.
As his existing representatives, GS Sports have emailed Brisbane's 15 NRL rivals offering Oates' services, claiming the Broncos cannot table a formal offer to the former Origin winger "at this stage".
The email has piqued the interest of the Eels and the Cowboys, the latter of whom is under pressure to inject fresh blood to their backline following their horror campaign this season.
With the Broncos also trying to retain Matt Lodge, Tevita Pangai Jr, Jamayne Isaako and Jaydn Su'A, there is no guarantee they will have the salary-cap space to win any bidding war for Oates.
But Bennett dismissed suggestions the Broncos did not want Oates, who just a fortnight ago revealed he had no idea if he would be at Red Hill next year.
"We won't be losing Corey Oates," Bennett said.
"We would like to keep Corey, but the management thing has to be sorted out and he knows that.
"I know Corey wants to stay, it's just a matter of us and him getting it (a contract) done, but I have no doubt he wants to stay here.
"We'll be doing everything we can not to lose him."
The risk for Brisbane is if Oates' availability on the open market triggers a lucrative offer that they simply cannot match under the salary cap.
When his current management deal expires next month, Oates will seek the counsel of his father-in-law Gene Miles.
Also Queensland's chairman of selectors, Miles has no desire to become an official NRL agent and will be only used in an advisory role.
Gold Coast coach Garth Brennan confirmed his club received the email from Oates' management firm but says the Titans would struggle to afford the Broncos hulk.
"Corey is a very good winger but I just don't know what we can afford under our salary-cap," he said.
"We've received an email from his management saying the Broncos can't offer him a deal at this stage.
"But I'm told Corey Oates is sorting out some stuff with his management so it's all a bit murky … I don't know what will happen until that is finalised."
Oates told The Courier-Mail last week: "I really don't know if I'll be here next year.
"I can't really talk to clubs until my contract ends with my management.
"I would prefer to stay at the Broncos, but I'm always open to leaving because that's part of the game now."
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