Corey Oates was ‘three beers in’ when he was called up to replace Murray Taulagi for Origin decider
Queensland coach Billy Slater reveals Corey Oates was ‘three beers in’ when he was surprisingly called up to replace Murray Taulagi for Origin decider after Covid wrought havoc on the Maroons last year
Billy Slater has revealed Corey Oates was ‘three beers in’ when he received a surprise call-up to replace Murray Taulagi for last year’s State of Origin decider.
With the series level at 1-1, the Maroons were dealt a seemingly crucial blow as star playmaker Cameron Munster and Taulagi were ruled out of Origin III in Brisbane after testing positive to Covid-19.
As the Maroons scrambled to find a replacement, Slater opted to select the Broncos’ winger, much to Oates’ surprise.
‘We didn’t really have a guy ready to come in [to replace Taulagi],’ the Maroons coach said on Wide World of Sports’ Billy Slater Podcast.
‘Hamiso [Tabuai-Fidow] actually had a head injury so he didn’t come into camp three, so we actually had to call an older player in Corey Oates.
Corey Oates was called into the Queensland team after Murray Taulagi tested positive to Covid-19 just before the series decider in Brisbane last year
Maroons coach Billy Slater revealed Oates was ‘three beers in’ by the time he was told he would be in the team for Origin III at Suncorp Stadium
‘Corey was about two or three beers in having a chat with his neighbour over the fence
‘We all knew with Corey Oates, he’d been there, he’d done it before and it was business as usual the next day once we got back on the training field.’
Slater also revealed he had ‘no hesitation’ in handing Cowboys star Tom Dearden his Origin debut after Munster, who had inspired the Maroons to win in the series opener, was ruled out of the decider.
‘I still remember going up and knocking on Tom Dearden’s door and he opened the door,’ Slater said.
‘I said: “Cameron [Munster] is not playing and you’re going to play your first Origin for Queensland”, and like most Queensland kids, you could just see the reality of a dream come true for Tom.
‘I still remember the look in his eye, he looked straight back at me and said: “I won’t let you down” and it gives me goosebumps now telling the story.
Slater also revealed the details of when he told Tom Dearden (right) he would make his Origin debut to replace Cameron Munster
Dearden and Oates (first two left) were integral part of the team that beat New South Wales 22-12 in the decider to wrap up a second series win in three years
‘A young guy that not that long ago was on the outer at a club and went to a new club and stuck it up, you could really see that fighting spirit in Tommy.
‘It was a great experience for me as a coach to deliver that news to him and for him to sit there and give me that much confidence that I had not one worry in the world, and his teammates didn’t have a concern either.
‘We knew what we were losing in Cameron Munster, but we certainly weren’t concerned with what we were getting in Tom Dearden and he certainly delivered.’
Despite the absences of Munster and Taulagi the Maroons stormed to a 22-12 win at Suncorp Stadium to wrap up a second series win in three years.