Corey Oates has told Broncos coach Anthony Seibold the key area he wants to improve in 2019 and insists the pre-season has got him prepared to ensure that "three out of 10" performances are a thing of the past.
"When he had his one-on-one meeting before Christmas, Seibs said ‘what do you think you need to improve’ and I said ‘closing the gap between my best game and my worst game’, and I think that comes down to all the little effort areas," Oates told NRL.com.
"It is all about not having your best game a nine [out of 10] and your worst game as a three."
Oates is a hard marker on himself. He had plenty of ‘nines’ last year on his way to being the club’s leading try scorer and regaining his Origin jersey.
The freakish finish in the round-15 win over the Cronulla Sharks has become one of his trademarks, and he repeated those match-winning displays throughout the year.
It is the 24-year-old winger's performance in the finals loss to the Dragons that he wants to eradicate. He was never in that game, and wasn’t happy with his performance despite carrying a calf injury into the match.
The Maroons winger pinpointed a key area where Seibold was helping the entire side close the gap, and related it back to a performance the Broncos would mark down as a three out of 10 at best.
"It was really tough to be a part of that semi because of how we’d played leading up to it, and then we dish up a performance like that. I didn’t play a great game at all," Oates said.
"But we are working on something with Seibs that I think will really help us a lot … and that’s how we react to a bad call or an error.
"When something happens that goes against you it is about flicking the switch and going 'right, I’m moving on and getting to my next job'. If you dwell on it for even five or 10 seconds it can go on for the whole set and they’ll score again.
"That is how it felt in that semi. No-one was reacting well or getting to the next job but I feel like we are on the way to being well prepared for that this year."
Oates said the strength and conditioning program put together by high performance chief Paul Devlin was also helping him to be ready to "close the gap" and to be at peak speed throughout the upcoming NRL season.
"It is game orientated the way they do it and about trying to get your high speed up more frequently and above normal game speed, and then seeing how you can take that into games and how often you can hit those high speeds," Oates said.
"Then when you get in games you are a bit more used to those effort areas. It is the sort of stuff I’ve been wanting to work on in my game.
"We get all the data each week and the last thing you want to see is that your percentages are lower than anyone else's so it makes you work harder. People always talk about muscle memory, so it will just become muscle memory when you get into a game."
Oates signed a one-year deal for 2019 and knows there will be constant speculation about his next move, but said playing another season off contract was not going to disrupt his Telstra Premiership campaign.
"I’m just going to do what I did last year, silence it all out,” he said.
"It makes me want to work harder and back myself again. My manager [George Mimis] and I thought that was the best way to go about it. He’s backing me. He just said 'all we need is for you to back yourself'. I did it last year and I’ll do it again.
"We aren’t going to push it. My side of it is to just play good football.”
And for Oates that is about not getting too carried away with his nine out of 10s, but making sure there are no threes.
It is why he played down his dazzling sprint to collect an Anthony Milford kick to score in the round-25 win over Manly.
"That is still part of my game that I need to fix up," he said.
"I want to work on pushing off the ball to try and be there for those plays. I feel like, as a winger, they are the times I should always be there."