Opacic exit means more cash for Oates
THE Broncos will begin negotiations with Corey Oates on Friday armed with an extra $200,000 in the salary cap after Brisbane centre Tom Opacic secured a release to join the Cowboys.
In a major boost to Brisbane's hopes of retaining Oates, the Origin star has finalised his management dispute, hiring the agent of Darius Boyd and Darren Lockyer to thrash out a new deal with the Broncos.
Broncos coach Wayne Bennett last month admitted he could not guarantee the club could afford to keep Oates, who has fielded massive offers in excess of $700,000 a season from Sydney-based rivals.
But the departure of Opacic, who will formally ink a two-year deal with derby rivals the Cowboys in the coming days, has delivered crucial extra funds under the salary cap to finance Oates' retention.
Opacic last month verbally agreed to an extension with the Broncos, but has hit a three-quarter roadblock at Red Hill behind the likes of James Roberts, Jamayne Isaako, Jordan Kahu and Kotoni Staggs.
Brisbane have agreed to release the 23-year-old Opacic, who was on around $200,000 this season, giving the Broncos more wriggle room in the cap to up the ante for Maroons winger Oates.
Oates' new agent George Mimis looks after the affairs of some of the NRL's biggest stars, including Broncos big guns Boyd and Sam Thaiday, Roosters halfback Cooper Cronk and Storm champion Billy Slater.
Mimis is reluctant to move players to rival clubs for change's sake and believes Oates can benefit by forging a 10-year career as a loyal Bronco in the mould of Thaiday and Lockyer.
"We will open discussions with the Broncos," Mimis told The Courier-Mail as Oates prepares for Sunday's final-round clash against Manly at Suncorp Stadium.
"While Corey is presently out of contract with the Broncos at season's end, he is optimistic that he can continue to build his career in Brisbane.
"Given his outstanding efforts it is only natural that he will attract the attention of other clubs, but Corey has indicated that his strong preference is to continue with the Broncos.
"Corey is an outstanding footballer and a standout person. He is an excitement machine and I look forward to working with him and his family in achieving his long-term goals."
The Cowboys have been linked with Oates, but the signing of Opacic has torpedoed any prospect of the Maroons ace heading north.
Oates had sought the counsel of his father-in-law Gene Miles, also Queensland's chairman of selectors, but the toll of complex negotiations convinced them to seek external help.
Oates won't give up on his dream of playing in the back row, but Bennett has made it clear to the towering utility that he is best suited on the wing at the Broncos.
Broncos five-eighth Anthony Milford appealed for the club not to lose Oates to more lucrative offers from Sydney.
"I'm hoping the club can do everything they can to keep Oatesy," he said.
"He is a quality player and person and he is the type of guy you want to build this club around."
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