Melbourne flyer Xavier Coates returns home to take on his former club when the stakes are at their highest, and is eyeing off a star-studded clash against his old wing partner Corey Oates.
With a top-four spot on the Telstra Premiership ladder on the line, the Storm head north to face the Broncos this week for a clash that has no doubt been marked in Coates’ calendar for a while.
The 21-year-old Melbourne winger will not only be lining up against several of his former teammates but matched up against his “idol” Corey Oates for the first time this Friday night at Suncorp Stadium.
“It’ll be the first time I’ve played them so I’m really looking forward to it,” Coates told NRL.com after Thursday night’s win against the Panthers.
“I think I’ve got Corey Oates on my edge and he’s a really quality player.
“When I was at Brisbane Corey, really helped me out as a winger, I’ve learnt a lot off him so hopefully I can put those things that he taught me in place and get one up on him.
I’m really looking forward to going up against someone that I idolise — I really looked up to him in my junior years.Storm winger Xavier Coates on Corey Oates
Born in Papua New Guinea, Coates’ family moved to the Gold Coast where he grew up before the young winger relocated to Brisbane through the Broncos pathways system.
“When I was 17 I moved up to Brisbane and Tom Dearden and I lived with Andrew McCullough when he was playing up there,” Coates said.
“I made a lot of good mates up there so I can’t wait to catch up with them after the game but first and foremost I’ve got to verse them.
“Kobe Hetherington and Herbie Farnworth I’m particularly close with so it’ll be good to catch up with them when I head up to Brisbane.”
"They’re a quality side and they’ve turned things around this year, Kevvy (Kevin Walters) and Ben Ikin have done a really good job in and around the club and the boys are all working really hard together and it’s good to see," he added. "I love seeing my mates do well and I think it’ll be a good test when we go up to play them."
The Maroons Origin representative was superb in Melbourne's shutout of the Panthers, running for 147 metres off 22 runs. The game was Coates' second game since Round 12 after picking up an ankle injury during the Origin period.
“I was a bit scared last week in my first game back, I had a bit of a twist in the ankle but that game (Round 22) felt really good and I didn’t come off the field all game,” Coates said.
“It was probably the most runs I’ve ever had in a game but it’s my job to help those boys out there doing tackles non-stop so I thought I’d try get a few runs I and help the boys out.
“It’s just great to be back. I’ve loved every minute of my time in Melbourne, I thought it was a really good opportunity to come down south and learn off one of the best coaches and I think I’ve taken that opportunity with two hands and I’m loving every second of it."
Match: Broncos v Storm
Round 23 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane