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Broncos search for new Prince

Switching towering backrower Corey Oates to the wing was one of the few successes of Brisbane's otherwise disappointing NRL season.
Broncos search for new Prince
by AAP

By Laine Clark

BRISBANE, Sept 6 AAP - Switching towering backrower Corey Oates to the wing was one of the few successes of Brisbane's otherwise disappointing NRL season.

Now the Broncos' need to pull off a much more impressive trick - finding someone to fill the big shoes left behind by retired pivot Scott Prince.

The once mighty Broncos drew the curtain on the worst season in their history the best they could by upsetting the finals-bound Bulldogs 16-11 at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night.

Fittingly the hero was season find Oates, 18, who sealed the match with his second try off a Peter Wallace kick in the 74th minute.

Not to be outdone, Prince showed all the experience of his remarkable 16-season career when he potted over the sideline conversion to seal only Brisbane's 10th win - the six-time premiers' worst season tally.

Oates began the season in the under 20s competition, even earning Team of the Year honours - in the backrow.

Yet the 192cm, 105kg teenager finished the year as Brisbane's new strike weapon - much, it seems, to Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin's pleasant surprise.

"He is not a winger but he is a talent. He has been tremendous," he said.

Oates answered the call during a shocking Brisbane backline injury crisis, averaging 125m a game and scoring eight tries in his nine NRL hit-outs to date.

But it remains to be seen who steps up in the absence of ex-Test and Queensland Origin half Prince.

Canberra's Anthony Milford has been tipped to wear Brisbane's No.6 jersey next year but is sweating on receiving a Raiders release on compassionate grounds.

Otherwise Broncos captain Sam Thaiday seemed to be stumped over Prince's replacement.

Then again few would have predicted Ben Hunt - who started the year as Broncos' third-choice No.7 - would finish the season as their in-form starting halfback.

"We were very lucky this year to get a player like Scott Prince," Thaiday said.

"(And) it's always going to be tough to replace great players.

"We put the challenge now to our players to really step up in the off-season, to try hard and challenge for that half spot."

The only other concern was fullback Josh Hoffman who suffered an AC shoulder tear, an injury that may jeopardise his end of year World Cup campaign with New Zealand.

"If it is just an AC tear he can play with it," Griffin offered.

Griffin will start the season post-mortem on Monday with the stinging words of club greats such as Gorden Tallis ringing in his ears.

But Thaiday claimed they were on the right track after getting "a bit of respect back" with the win over the Bulldogs.

"Within our four walls we are tight ... everyone outside can have their opinion," he said.

Asked what Brisbane had to do to turn it around next year, Thaiday smiled: "Win more games".

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