Gillett turns heads, grabs new NRL deal - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Gillett turns heads, grabs new NRL deal

By Wayne Heming 23/06/2010 06:20:49 PM Comments (0)

Broncos coach Ivan Henjak was impressed enough by Matt Gillett during the NRL pre-season that he toyed with playing him as Karmichael Hunt's fullback replacement.

Henjak eventually settled on Corey Norman for the Brisbane No.1 jumper in the season opener against the Cowboys after an injury to first-choice Josh Hoffman, with Gillett making his surprise NRL debut off the bench.

"At the time I was looking at our fullback options and Matt was in the mix," Henjak revealed to AAP.

Gillett has continued to impress some good judges since a debut featuring 21 tackles, 115 metres and a try in just over 30 minutes.

The Broncos on Wednesday announced they'd negotiated a new deal with Gillett, keeping the Bribie Island junior at the club until 2013 - by which time he should be playing for Queensland.

They also signed 20-year-old utility Gerard Beale as part of their blueprint to retain much of their young talent.

"From what Matt's already done in such a short space of time he's certainly opened a few eyes up," said Henjak.

"You never know how good they're going to be and I'd be kidding myself and everyone else if I said I knew then he was going to be a representative player.

"But from the first time he trained with us we thought `hell, this kid's got something' - he could just do things."

Gillett has been one of the finds of the NRL season.

However, had he not been rocked by the tragic death of close friend and former Bribie Island teammate Todd Parnell last year, things might have been different.

Parnell's death, at a party on Bribie Island last July, made Gillett realise he didn't want to waste the talent he had.

He has dedicated 2010 to his close mate.

"I'd just come out of school and I liked hanging around my mates and having a few drinks," said a candid Gillett on Wednesday.

"It's hard sometimes to believe I'm playing with Darren Lockyer and Sam Thaiday and Israel (Folau)."

Gillett played a handful of games for Brisbane's under 20 side in 2008 and was a standout performer for Brisbane Norths in last year's Queensland Cup.

"Rugby league didn't always appear to be a priority and he often got distracted from his footy which is fair enough when you are young," former Queensland and Australian halfback Mark Murray told AAP in February.

"He's a future representative player. I think over the next two seasons he'll become the best back-rower the club has."

Brisbane assistant Anthony Griffin coached Gillett as a junior at Redcliffe when he came across from Wests colts in 2008 to play for Brisbane's under 20s.

"Wests colts made the play-offs and wanted him back. He was basically on loan to us," said Griffin.

"Matt was a bit casual and with the travel from Bribie Island, I'm not sure it was as important to him.

"But having played for us in 2008 and with Norths in Queensland Cup plus a few things that happened in his personal life, he's rock hard now with his attitude."

Gillett, who bulked up from 94kg to 101kg for his NRL debut, will step into left centre against Parramatta on Saturday, further underlining his value to the club.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2021 AAP

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