Matt Harris, Queensland Correspondent, NRL.com
Although he admits he’s a little terrified at the prospect of marking Cowboys giant Jason Taumalolo, Broncos enforcer Matt Gillett is keen to fight fire with fire when he confronts the hulking back-rower on Friday night.
Any less of a player may need to pack an extra pair of underwear in their kit bag in order to deal with a huge 191-centimetre, 112-kilogram wrecking-ball of a man running full steam at them, but Gillett won’t shy away from the challenge of marking Taumalolo when they oppose each other at Suncorp Stadium.
“I’m a bit terrified of that," Gillett said of marking Taumalolo, only half joking.
“He’s a big, tall fellow. He’s obviously a powerful football player and very aggressive with his runs.
“I think I’ll need to run at him as much as I can to try and tire him out otherwise we’re in for a big night.”
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Gillett revealed to NRL.com that his game day routine consisted of eating poached eggs for breakfast, followed by a big lunch, afternoon nap and wearing the same pair of underwear to each match.
He developed the quirky habit of wearing the same pair of jocks once per week on game day after having success with a particular pair against the Dragons in Round 2 last season.
“They’re still pretty fresh, so it’s all right,” the 25-year-old insisted.
Since scoring on debut against the Cowboys in Round 1 of 2010 and winning the Dally M Rookie of the Year in the same season, the career of the Bribie Island junior has continued to ascend on a steady incline.
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Used as an impact player off the bench in his early days, Gillett has often been used in a utility role, covering a number of positions including centre, second row, lock and even a couple of stints at five-eighth as an injury replacement for the great Darren Lockyer – most notably in the 2011 Preliminary Final against Manly after Lockyer had fractured his cheekbone the week before.
However, for the start of this season ‘Gillo’ currently finds himself locking the scrum, striking up a new defensive alliance on the right edge with the newly formed centre and wing pairing of Dale Copley and Lachlan Maranta.
Both Copley and Maranta performed admirably in attack and defence for the Broncos in last Friday’s 18-12 victory over the Bulldogs, but the task doesn’t get any easier for Brisbane’s right edge trio as they prepare for an almighty battle against Taumalolo.
Not only will the trio have their work cut out in dealing with the 20-year-old who amassed more than 200 metres in an 80-minute display against the Raiders; they’ll also need to keep an eye out for his partner in crime from Round 1, Johnathan Thurston.
“Thurston’s out there on his side which is a big benefit for Taumalolo so we just have to do our job on him,” Gillett said.
“If we get that right it’ll be helping the team out as well.”
The Thurston and Taumalolo partnership terrorised the Raiders from the outset last weekend, with both players denied tries on the left edge from agonisingly close range in the first half.
On a personal note for Gillett, the six-game Origin player is targeting another improved season so he can retain his Maroons jersey and push for a Test debut with the Kangaroos.
“I want to do my best. You’ve got a lot of people watching you and everyone’s got their own opinion so you want to be doing your best every week,” he said.
“I want to be playing representative football again this year, but that all comes back here to the training paddock at the Broncos. Playing well for them week-in, week-out is what I’ve got to do first and hopefully some rewards come off that.
“I’m just trying to play some good footy for the Broncos and getting us to the finals, which is what we all want to be doing as a team.”
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