Brisbane coach Kevin Walters has explained the tough decision to leave out veteran winger Corey Oates for Jesse Arthars and says their NRL qualifying final with Melbourne will be won between the ears.
The Broncos are one to 17 for the showdown at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night when Arthars will play left wing instead of 201-game veteran Oates, who has played only nine games this season due to injury.
Oates has played in 11 NRL finals dating back to 2014 while the 25-year-old Arthars, who has been outstanding in 17 first-grade matches this season, will make his NRL finals debut against the Storm.
“It was a difficult one. With Oatesy, I just felt he hadn't played enough footy for us consistently for a match that is going to be quite fast,” Walters said.
“Oatesy has great experience at Origin and finals level, but the only way to gain experience is to play in those games.
“Jesse has been really good for us this year, whatever position he has played. He has been called in late at different times and done a terrific job for us whenever he has played, so he has got the jump on Oatesy.”
Walters said Martin Tapau and Corey Jensen could easily have been in the 17 but were edged out by Kobe Hetherington, Brendan Piakura and Keenan Palasia, who will join rake Tyson Smoothy on the four-man bench.
“Keenan has been starting and he has had a couple of games off the bench for us so he will know what to do,” Walters said.
"Kobe has been a regular coming on. He is a different style of player to our other middles but certainly brings plenty to the group.
“Brendan Piakura, we have used him with great effect on the edge. It is a different bench but one that has been very effective.
“We are mindful that we are a fit side and very athletic so we need to maintain that. It is a game of footy that will be won in the minds and we are very strong there.”
Walters is aware the Broncos have not beaten the Storm at Suncorp Stadium since 2009, but he said that wouldn't be a factor.
“I don't believe in hoodoos,” he said.
“This group of players haven't even spoken about it. The Broncos beat the Storm in (the) 2006 (grand final). Do you think that's relevant to what is happening this year? I don't think it is.
“The Storm have been a great team for a long time. We are respectful of that, but all my energy and focus has been on us and making sure we get it right tomorrow night as best we can.
"Now it won't be a complete performance but it will be one of our best performances of the year and it will need to be.”