Broncos’ three-man wing battle for Las Vegas heating up

Joel Gould |

Veteran Corey Oates is in a three-man race for two Brisbane Broncos wing positions.
Veteran Corey Oates is in a three-man race for two Brisbane Broncos wing positions.

The three-man battle for two Brisbane wing positions is set go into overdrive, with Jesse Arthars, Corey Oates and Deine Mariner in a hotly contested race to play round one in Las Vegas.

Arthars, who has recovered from an ankle injury that hampered his pre-season, gets his first hit-out of the year for the Maori All Stars in Townsville on Friday night.

On Sunday it is the turn of veteran Oates and tyro Mariner, who will play on either wing for the Broncos in the NRL pre-season trial against North Queensland in Mackay.

The battle has intriguing plot lines.

Last year’s right winger Selwyn Cobbo has been moved to left centre by coach Kevin Walters this season, opening up a vacancy for the first-round clash against the Sydney Roosters in Nevada.

Arthars played most of last year on the left wing and was preferred to Oates for the finals series.

Jesse Arthars
Jesse Arthars had a career-best season for the Brisbane Broncos in 2023. (Pat Hoelscher/AAP PHOTOS)

He had a career-best season and was one of the Broncos’ best in the grand final loss to Penrith.

Oates, who has scored 118 tries in his 201 NRL games for the Broncos, was left out of the side that played in last year’s finals series and grand final, despite recovering from injuries that plagued his season. 

In the nine times he did play in 2023, Oates averaged a career-best 184 metres per game.

He has been training at left wing this pre-season and looks in tip-top shape. 

The 29-year-old has been a wonderful servant of the Broncos, and his powerhouse carries make him a hard man to leave out when fully fit.

Mariner is the 20-year-old new kid on the block who possesses speed, strength and instinct. 

He is highly rated and is learning plenty this pre-season under the tutelage of Walters and outside backs coach Darius Boyd.

Deine Mariner
Deine Mariner is flying high in Brisbane’s pre-season as he aims to get a round-one wing spot. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

“Physically, Deine is very good and has a lot of good attributes with the ball,” Broncos assistant coach Matt Ballin said.

“Now he is working on the finer details on his game. He works with Darius every day, he watches video and does some work at training with his catching. 

“It’s up to these guys how far they want to go. If they want to push for spots, then they will push and put themselves in the picture for spots.”

Mariner has played six NRL games in the past two seasons. He has been training on the right wing outside of Test centre Kotoni Staggs.

“Deine has been good in pre-season,” Staggs said.

“He is still young and still learning.

“He is loving it on the wing. I love having him outside me. He is very quick, so you give him the ball in space and he’s gone.

“He is taking the opportunity that Kevvie  (Walters) has given him with both hands.”

AAP