Gillett: Re-injury fear plays on my mind
Matt Gillett admits he will have to confront his fears of suffering an injury in his comeback from neck and shoulder issues in the Broncos' last pre-season trial on Saturday.
The man who was the best right-edge forward in rugby league before he was found to have a fractured neck last April has been selected to make his return in the middle.
Gillett will wear No.13 against Gold Coast on Saturday at Cbus Super Stadium in a Broncos pack to miss the injured Tevita Pangai Jr and the suspended Payne Haas.
The usually low-fuss Gillett is 328 days between matches and on Tuesday did not downplay his concerns over impacts on his neck and, to a lesser extent, the shoulder which had a reconstruction in August.
"There will be thoughts before the game about what could happen, maybe an injury will happen again,'' Gillett said.
"I've definitely had those thoughts, no doubt about that.
"Once you are on the footy field, you are thinking about doing your role, not thinking about injuries. That's what I've found.
"I am pretty sweet with it. We do game scenarios every day at training so we are doing the contact.
"I won't be going out there trying to whack blokes in defence. I will get my timing back and once I get that I am confident I will be able to go harder.
"It might take me a little while to find my feet again, but the body is great and I'm in good nick at the moment.''
Gillett, 30, trained in the engine room on Tuesday and may swap spots with edge selection David Fifita against the Titans.
"I will play some middle, just trialling it out this week,'' he said.
"Tevita is out and if he is fit and healthy and plays lock I'd push back out to the edge. It may be one or two games, depending on a few injuries.
"I'll be doing a lot of video this week to make sure I get the role right. It's a new role for me, but I'm learning it pretty quick. Change is always good.
I'll be trying to get as many minutes as I can. Game fitness is something I need to work on.''
Despite his lack of training last year, the Queensland and Australian second-rower reached his optimum playing weight of 101kg in December by adding 10kg to his frame and is pleased to have maintained through so many steamy weeks of training.
Gillett, who has played 12 Origin games, would settle a big selection issue for Queensland this year if he can make a confident and sustained return to the NRL.
"Last year was all pretty hard to watch. You became a fan, riding the highs and the lows,'' he said
"You have to hold back a bit. I have to find my feet at the Broncos first and try to build my game and build on my fitness. If I do, the opportunity to represent Queensland can come.
"I will go with a clear head and do my role in my position.''
Broncos starting prop Joe Ofahengaue said Gillett has the defence and strength to play permanently in the middle should Seibold want a more extended stint from him there.
"He's been there before. Gillo doesn't care what number he wears, he just goes 100 per cent,'' Ofahengaue said.
Fifita played beyond expectations as an 18-year-old late last season on an edge and is one of a number of young Broncos forwards Gillett is keen to see embark on the premiership season on March 14 against Melbourne.
"Seibs (coach Anthony Seibold) will have a headache picking the team,'' Gillett said.