IN DOUBT: A mysterious illness appears to have ruled Corey Oates out the Broncos clash with the Storm.
IN DOUBT: A mysterious illness appears to have ruled Corey Oates out the Broncos clash with the Storm. Jason O'Brien

Brisbane Broncos winger sidelined by mystery illness

BRISBANE winger Corey Oates is at long odds to play in Friday night's blockbuster against Melbourne after suffering a mystery illness before Thursday's captain's run at Red Hill.

The dumped Queensland Origin winger will undergo medical checks after failing to appear at Brisbane's final training run as they prepare for an Origin-style clash with ladder leaders the Storm at Suncorp Stadium.

Oates will be given until game day to prove his match fitness, but coach Wayne Bennett says he is an unlikely starter, with boom rookie Jonus Pearson on standby after running with the top squad on Thursday morning.

"At this stage, Corey is not playing,” Bennett said.

"He's got a ... well, I don't know if virus is the appropriate word, but something is affecting his lower back, legs and groin.

"He just woke up with it and doesn't feel mobile, so we will get him checked out.

"It just happened overnight. It's not the flu, we're not sure what it is, it's affecting his lower limbs, we had a similar situation with Ben Hunt a few years ago, but we don't think it's too serious.

"If he wakes up tomorrow feeling good, we will play him, but it doesn't look like being the case.”

While Oates is in grave doubt, there is no uncertainty over the halfback spot, with Ben Hunt ousting Kodi Nikorima after his superb display against the Raiders last week.

Nikorima was named in the No. 7 jumper but Bennett confirmed he will start off interchange, meaning Hunt and Benji Marshall will be the scrumbase duo tasked with dismantling the Storm.

"Ben will start tomorrow, Kodi will go to the bench,” Bennett said.

"His game last week was important but I will keep rotating the halves around for a while, until we get closer to the end of the season.

"Ben's performance last week was as good as he's had in 18 months so he has to maintain that form.

"It's not so much a battle (of the halves), it just depends on who is doing the best job there.

"Benji gets an opportunity again this week, Kodi has been good, it's not a crucial time of the season yet.

"The next five or six weeks we will have to finalise our best 17 and go from there.”


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