Plucked from obscurity at the beginning of 2010 before going on to win the Dally M Rookie of the Year only months later, Matt Gillett knows a thing or two about fast starts, saying attitude is to blame for the Broncos' recent struggles to come out of the blocks firing.
In the past two weeks the Broncos have had to play catch-up football after conceding two early tries in games against the Warriors and Storm. With their status in the top-eight hanging by a thread, they cannot afford a repeat at Brookvale against the Sea Eagles, a venue they've never won at on a Friday night.
Their last win at Brookvale came in Round 13, 2010 with Gillett starting from the bench in a 22-6 victory played on a Sunday afternoon. The Broncos have only ever won five out of 16 games when playing the Sea Eagles on Sydney's north shore, so to avoid another Brookvale bashing Gillett says the Broncos must turn up with the correct attitude in order to repeat their 36-10 thrashing of Manly earlier in the season.
"[Starting well] is a group attitude thing," Gillett said. "We need to turn up with a good attitude – definitely a good defensive attitude. They do throw the ball around a lot and they've got great strike out wide.
"We've got to prepare well this week and turn up with the right attitude in order to get a good start and go on with it from there."
The Broncos back-rower will play his 100th NRL game against Manly on Friday night after a meteoric rise that first began as a junior with the Bribie Island Warrigals.
Gillett was first spotted by Broncos scouts playing for his junior club in 2008 and was quickly thrust into Brisbane's former feeder team Norths Devils, winning the Queensland Cup Rookie of the Year award in 2009 before achieving the same honour in the NRL 12 months later.
"I never thought I'd be playing first grade like I have, but to get that opportunity to now play my 100th game this week – I'm pretty happy and I hope there's a lot more to come," Gillett said.
"Most of these days there are academies that you get into from a pretty young age and you go through the whole system right the way through to NRL. But a few of us have come out of the blue and come though Queensland Cup and I was lucky enough to get that chance in a pre-season and went on from there. I was very lucky to get my opportunity and I'm very grateful.
"You never know who's watching out there and I didn’t think I was getting looked at [during] that stage of my career but fortunately I was."
Now 25 with nine Origins and one Test behind him, Gillett has the required credentials to pinpoint where the Broncos have fallen short in recent weeks and believes a fast start is the key to victory over the high-flying Sea Eagles at their Brookvale Oval fortress.
"We talk about it every week but haven’t been able to get the start that we want," he said.
"Definitely this week it will be necessary to get a good start and go from there. Our focus is on that so hopefully we can go down to Manly and get a better start than we have in the past couple of weeks.
"Going down [to Brookvale] is a tough assignment and the way Manly has been going means it will be a big task for us on Friday night."