They say what goes up must go down, and that was certainly the case for Melbourne Storm and Queensland high flyer Xavier Coates at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
First he was up – literally – as he leapt his way to score a remarkable aerial try in the corner that was one of the most spectacular tries of his NRL career.
The winger leapt high, managed to remain in the field of play and did the splits over the corner post to score his second.
It was the 10th career double and his fourth at AAMI Park, and he was labelled by coach Craig Bellamy as Storm’s best following the 24-6 victory.
The performance came just three nights after he starred in Queensland’s series-clinching victory at Suncorp Stadium. Coates cut an almost forlorn figure as he sat on the turf at the end of the 80 minutes, and later explained to NRL.com the fatigue and emotion of a huge week had finally caught up with him.
“I was pretty exhausted,” he said.
“I’m going to head home and recover up, just sleep and let my body recover.
“I’m knackered but just happy we got the win.”
Fellow Queensland star Cameron Munster missed the game with illness, which close friend and Storm captain Christian Welch jokingly referred to as “Caxton-itis" after the hard-earned win.
Storm v Sea Eagles - Round 17, 2023
Hooker Harry Grant joined Coates in backing up from Origin, and the Storm winger said he was never going to miss the battle with Storm’s fiercest rival.
“I’m knackered, but it’s an absolute privilege to not only pull on the Maroons jersey but also the Storm jersey, so whenever I get the opportunity to do that I’m going to take it with both hands,” he said.
“Tonight we were going up against a really tough Manly side who got us back at Brookvale earlier in the season, so I was pretty motivated to come back and play this game and try to get that win because the draw’s so tough.”
The humble Coates would not be drawn on where his second try rated in his pantheon of spectacular aerial tries, modestly brushing it off as “nothing special.”
“I’m not sure (where it ranks), but my focus before the game was just to do the tough stuff with the yardage carries and working really hard from the backfield to get the sets started,” he said.
“I feel like if I do that well then the tries come off the back of that. It comes off the back of that…I was just trying to put the ball down to get four points.
"Nothing too special."
Coates back in Maroon and into the tries
Coates was considered unlucky to not be selected for Game One of the Origin series, but he starred when he received the call up for the second instalment last Wednesday night to replace the injured Selwyn Cobbo.
He described the series-sealing win at Suncorp Stadium, in which he scored a try, as a moment he’d never forget.
“I got goosebumps straight away as soon as I ran out…it gives you a bit of confidence just knowing Billy [Slater] has faith in you to pull on that famous jersey and compete with the best of the best,” said.
“I always knew deep down I had it in me and I turned up to training with the same attitude every day just trying to work hard and better myself.
“We’ve got the coaching staff here at the Melbourne Storm who day in and day out give us that advantage. They’re the best coaches in the game I feel like and it’s something really special coming here to Melbourne and I think that plays a part in developing my game.”
The third placed Storm next faces a massive test when they meet heavyweights Penrith in the club’s first home game at Docklands’ Marvel Stadium since 2010.
Match: Storm v Panthers
Round 18 -
Venue: Marvel Stadium, Melbourne