Matt Gillett facing fight for Broncos starting spot
MATT Gillett has played the past nine State of Origin games for Queensland and made his debut for Australia this year, but the powerhouse Brisbane forward believes he faces a fierce fight to secure a starting spot in new coach Wayne Bennett's remodelled Broncos pack next season.
One of eight Brisbane players to undergo shoulder reconstruction surgery at season's end, Gillett admitted the acquisition of aggressive Kiwis representative Adam Blair would throw both Sam Thaiday and Corey Parker into the back-row mix with regular starter Alex Glenn, also a Kiwi international, making it extremely tough to crack one of the three spots in 2015.
And that's leaving out exciting 2013 rookie of the year Corey Oates, skilful recruit Mitch Garbutt and under-20s forward sensation Joe Ofahengaue, who hopes to make his NRL debut next year following a stunning 2014 with the colts side.
"I'll have to impress the boss (Bennett) to cement a spot in the back row," Gillett told APN in an exclusive interview this week.
"That's going to be pretty hard now with Adam Blair coming into the front row, which means Sammy (Thaiday) and Cozza (Corey Parker) will probably drop back into two of those back-row positions. That will make it very tough.
"It's a new coach and a new start so everyone will be fighting for those positions. Those guys (Thaiday and Parker) have got a head start because of what they've done in the game.
"I have to make sure I have a good pre-season and Wayne likes what he sees."
Gillett, who made a winning debut for Australia in the Anzac Test against New Zealand earlier this year, says the chance to be mentored by Bennett at this stage of his career is exciting. He said he had already noticed the aura the seven-time premiership-winning coach brought to training.
"I just had a general chat with him. He's quite funny but he's really good to listen to," Gillett said.
"Even doing the small drills you can feel him out there watching you. Every player here, if they listen and learn, will benefit from Wayne's experience.
"I think we will all benefit from Wayne coming back to the club and learning some things we've never been taught before.
"I want to work on my consistency and hopefully Wayne can help me with that side of things."