Students moving on from cruel semi-final ahead of date with Brothers says try-scoring revelation Kye Oates

By Liam Cook

UQ winger Kye Oates is confident his team can regroup for their preliminary final against Brothers after a crushing semi-final loss to Wests.

“It sort of explains itself, you’re playing Brothers in a knockout semi and everyone will be up for it,” Oates told Rugby News.

The semi-final defeat against Wests will go down as one of the most enthralling contests in Queensland club rugby.

For UQ, they were left to lament a golden opportunity to move straight into the grand final and defend their 2021 premiership.

“It is a rough one to be on the end of that, despite the draw you have to cop it as a loss.”

“We put ourselves in that position and we definitely had moments where we should have put that game away.”

The Red Heavies will take plenty of lessons out of the clash even with the bitter feeling of losing despite equalling their opponents on the scoreboard.

“We were up by ten so we expect ourselves to be able to hold that for five minutes or so and we didn’t do that on the weekend.”

“That was the main thing, just a bit better game management and being able to defend our mistakes when we need to.”

A game that lasted nearly one-hundred and ten minutes, UQ’s semi-final took its toll physically.

“On the weekend it was something else, over one-hundred minutes of footy and it was the first time I’d ever played extra time.”

“You definitely felt it on Monday and I know the boys were the sorest we’d been all year.”

UQ will need to recover quickly ahead of a do-or-die preliminary final against rival Brothers.

Despite toppling the Brethren in round fourteen, the Student’s know playing against their foe will be a different prospect in finals.

“We know we can play some good footy so we back ourselves to do that on the weekend and make sure our defence is top gear.”

“They’ve got some good attacking players so as long as we can shut that down than we’ll go a long way to winning it.”

Oates has been one of the most dynamic and eye-catching players in the competition this season.

The No.11 has scored seven tries in his last three outings alone and will need to be at his attacking best this Sunday at Bond University.

“Pretty solid I think,” Oates said of his form in 2022.

“There’s been a couple of decent performances in that.

“I’m pretty happy with it overall even though there were a few too many mistakes earlier on in the season but we’re coming good at the back end.”

The prodigious talent wrestled with pursuing opportunities in rugby league but has ultimately thrived as a union player.

“I was from Rocky so I was a ‘leaguey’ growing up and that was my first bit of rugby.”

“From school I went to UQ and played a year of colts and after that I went back to league and then ended up back in union and played a bit of Australian under twenties.”

Opportunity and higher honours are the main factors Oates’ cites in his decision to go down the rugby path.

“When I was playing league I had a phone call with ‘gilly’ (Jason Gilmore) and he just expressed interest in trying to play that Australian under twenties at the world cup.”

“That year the first time they brought it in I played in the Barbarians side.

“After getting picked in the squad I just stuck with it and it was a bit more of an opportunity than I was getting with league.”

UQ’s season has not been without obstacles, the most notable a mid-season lull in form and availability.

The Student’s have since recaptured some of their best form in time for September.

“We got found out where we lost those couple of games in a row.”

“We started to turn it around a little bit and it wasn’t until those last couple of games of the season were we started to really turn it on and play as good as we thought we should be.

“For the most part it was pretty good but there was definitely a bit there where we sort of had to look at ourselves and go ‘is this really the sort of footy we should be playing?’”

Someone who played a major hand in that turnaround and continues to thrive is skipper Pat Morrey, says Oates. 

“If you want a bloke who puts his body on the line game in, game out he’s definitely your guy.”

“He’s leading from the front at the moment… he’s just gone to a whole different level this year.”

There is little doubt Oates is destined for bigger things after his particularly impressive season.

The humble speedster is, for now, just focused on going back-to-back.

“I want to do it full time, I want to play professionally somewhere.”

“I’m pretty cruisy… at the moment just focus on playing some finals and hopefully get to that GF and go from there. “