Gillett leaves big impression at Broncos - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Gillett leaves big impression at Broncos

By Wayne Heming 04/09/2010 05:33:26 PM Comments (0)

Brisbane may have missed the finals for the first time in 19 years but exciting rookie Matt Gillett was able to muster a smile after one of the best-ever debut NRL seasons by a forward-utility.

Gillett scored his 12th try in 21 games in the 18-16 defeat to Canberra on Friday, in a campaign that has seen him play six games in the centres, one at five-eighth and 15 in the Broncos' backrow.

His performances are comparable to the 12-try debut season by Parramatta great Ray Price (25 games) in 1976 and Newtown's John Ribot (17 games) in 1978.

Gillett, 22, was a revelation in 2010, coming from obscurity to make a stunning impact as Brisbane's handyman for all occasions.

He is an odds-on favourite to become the first Brisbane player since Karmichael Hunt in 2004 to win NRL rookie-of-the-year at Tuesday's Dally M Awards.

The prize has been won in recent years by Test and State of Origin stars Israel Folau (2007) and Jarryd Hayne (2006).

Gillett's impact was so swift this year he rated a mention in talks for this year's Origin series and is an outside shot at being included in Tim Sheens' Four Nations Kangaroos squad.

Rapid stuff for a kid who a few years ago was more interested in having a good time with his mates after a game than committing himself to being a top-line player.

All that changed for Gillett on a tragic night in 2009 when he received a life-changing phone call telling him his close friend and Bribie Island Warrigals teammate, Todd Parnell, had died after being punched at a party.

Gillett had to deliver the news to the team the next day that Parnell's life support had been turned off.

When the Broncos gave him a chance following an impressive pre-season, Gillett publicly dedicated his debut season to Todd, who was also a Broncos junior.

He didn't let him down either, scoring a brace of tries against Cronulla, South Sydney and North Queensland in an unforgettable opening year in first grade.

Brisbane coach Ivan Henjak was so impressed with Gillett's skills during pre-season that he pondered playing him at fullback to replace the AFL-bound Hunt.

While disappointed at missing out on finals action, Gillett was understandably thrilled with his year.

"It's a bit disappointing not getting to the finals but I'll take a lot out of the experience and hopefully be an even better player next year," he said.

"I think we'll be a lot better footy team next year."

What of his 12 tries ... the best by any forward this year?

"I'm pretty happy about that," he smiled.

"I really wasn't expecting to get one (try) or even one game."

Being able to play so many positions gives Gillett a chance of being named for the Four Nations series which starts next month, but he hosed down any thoughts of a Kangaroos call-up.

"I don't think about that much but of course I'd love to play for Australia and Queensland," he said.

"I just love playing good footy for the Broncs but if those opportunities came, I'd be overwhelmed and give it my best shot."

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