Broncos winger Corey Oates has urged Brisbane fans to give his side’s stuttering left edge time as they struggle to discover the form that saw Oates score 18 tries last season.
Oates has only crossed the line once so far in 2017, with five-eighth Anthony Milford out of form and failing to threaten in attack.
The off-season arrival of Tautau Moga after the retirement of Jack Reed has compounded Milford’s struggles, with Milford and Moga struggling to gel as an attacking combination on the Broncos’ left.
Moga arrived from the North Queensland Cowboys in October last year with the Broncos expecting big things from the hulking centre, but the 23-year-old has failed to make an impact in his four games this year and is yet to score a try.
In fact, Brisbane’s left side has only managed two tries all year, with five coming up the centre and four coming on the right.
It leaves the Broncos with the worst attack out of any side in the top eight, scoring just 71 points in four matches.
This ranks Brisbane’s attack at 13th in the NRL, with only the Newcastle Knights, Wests Tigers, and this week’s opponents the Canterbury Bulldogs having scored less.
But an optimistic Oates told NRL.com that he believes the best of the Broncos’ attack isn’t far away.
“We’ve got Tautau there and he’s a new centre. We are all still trying to get used to each other and that takes time,” Oates said.
“We’ve had Jack Reed there for a few years so it takes time to get used to a new combination.
“We are on the right track and I’m looking forward to what we can do going forward.
“It’s always tough playing with new teammates. It takes a bit of time to get your timing right and gel together. It’s not the easiest thing to do.
“We are getting there so I’m hoping it clicks soon. Everyone is playing good footy but it’s just not showing on the scoreboard.”
Despite Oates’s positivity, there is no doubting that Wayne Bennett will be wanting more from his livewire five-eighth Milford.
The 22-year-old has just one try assist in four matches and is struggling to kick-start the running game that made him so dangerous in recent years.
Milford is averaging just 82 running metres per game in 2017, a drop from the 117 he averaged in 2016.
With some media outlets recently criticising his work ethic at training, the No.6 needs to perform and prove the doubters wrong. And Oates is of the belief that this will happen when Milford lets go of the criticism and plays with a clear head, imploring his teammate to focus only on what he can control.
“I don’t think Milford’s lost his form. I think he’s just got too many things going through his head,” Oates said.
“‘Milf’ is a great player. He plays his heart out every week. I think he’s just got to ignore any off-field distractions and put those criticisms behind him.
“He has the confidence in him and he always plays hard. It’s the same for me so we both need to work on a few things.
“We can’t focus on the success we’ve had in the past because it’s about the future.”
And as for whether Oates will cross the line this week…
“I hope so! I just really want a meat pie. Three games without one is too long,” he said.