Wayne Bennett Defends The Decision To Play Oates

"He's in the very best care"

Wayne Bennett Defends The Decision To Play Oates Getty Images

The NRL has backed Brisbane to make the right call over Corey Oates with Wayne Bennett dismissing critics of his decision to play the Brisbane winger a week after a sickening on-field collision.

Bennett confirmed Oates would start in Friday night's preliminary final against Melbourne along with skipper Darius Boyd (hamstring), just days after the lanky flyer was knocked unconscious in the semi-final win over Penrith.

Oates had to be taken off in a medi-cab after colliding with teammate Anthony Milford in the first half against the Panthers.

His selection against the Storm raised eyebrows as well as player welfare concerns.

But Bennett bristled when it was suggested the coach had pressured Oates to play the grand-final qualifier.

"There has never been pressure on any players to play with me here," he said.

"It was in the hands of the doctor. The doctor's made a decision, it is now in Corey's hands whether he wants to play and he wants to play and that is the way it will be.

"The doctor has cleared him to play and he is confident he can play - that's all I need to know."

Bennett said he didn't care if he copped any more flak over picking Oates.

"One thing I know is that they will never build a statue for critics," he said.

"Fortunately, I don't listen to them.

"There is no one more concerned about the players' welfare than this club so I am not really interested in anyone's opinion."

NRL boss Todd Greenberg backed Brisbane to follow all concussion protocols before clearing Oates.

"He's in the very best care at the Broncos," he told AAP.

"Knowing those people and the processes that we have in place, they will put his care before anything else.

"If he is fit to play, the people making those decisions will be the doctors and I think that is the most-appropriate person."

Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga couldn't see a problem with Oates playing.

"It probably looked worse than it was but put it in the hands of the medicos - they know him best," he told Fox Sports' Queenslanders Only program.

"The testing regime is really strict so, if he is right to go, he is right to go."

Brisbane veteran forward Sam Thaiday - who was also forced off with a head knock against Penrith - said Oates would not have been picked if he wasn't right to play.

Thaiday knew first hand the hoops players had to jump through to get back on the field after suffering concussion and was confident there would be no risk for Oates.

"This week already, he has had three different tests to pass just to be with us out on the training paddock," Thaiday said.

"It's not just sit down with a doctor and ask if he's okay.

"He's had a brain scan as well. There is a fair bit to get back out on the field.

"But it comes down to a doctor's decision."

Bennett gave his whole squad a clean bill of health despite bench forward Joe Ofahengaue (calf) giving the Broncos an injury scare at Thursday's training.

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