Gillett: Maroons' 18th man behind Origin record
The Queensland Maroons have not lost a State of Origin decider at home in 13 years and back-rower Matt Gillett reckons that record owes a lot to "Suncorp Stadium, our 18th man".
Gillett spoke to NRL.com at a ticket sales promotion for Holden State of Origin III to be held at the spiritual home of Queensland rugby league on Wednesday, July 11.
The Maroons will be hoping to have wrapped up the series by then, but if recent history is any guide a 1-1 series scoreline is very much on the cards.
Since losing to the Blues in the 2005 decider the Maroons have clinched the series at Suncorp Stadium in 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2017.
Gillett has played in three of those deciders and said the home-ground advantage was not to be underestimated.
"We are lucky here at the Broncos to play at Suncorp Stadium week-in and week-out but knowing that third Origin game is going to be here this year is special," he said.
"You run out and every side of the stadium is maroon, you hear the loudest roar you've ever heard and all your family and friends are there in support.
"You look around the stadium and it does give you goosebumps. Playing at Suncorp in the final game is definitely going to be an advantage for us. It's our 18th man."
The Maroons visit a regional centre each year where they are reminded that the backing they receive on game night is widespread and supporters travel thousands of kilometres to attend Suncorp Stadium.
Gillett said he felt that support when he played in his first Origin decider at home in 2012 when Cooper Cronk landed a 75th-minute field goal.
"Despite the situation we were in, with the players we had in the side you always felt like with all that support on our home turf we could finish the game off, and we did with the field goal," he said.
The 29-year-old has played 18 consecutive Origin games since making his debut for Queensland but it was only when Kevin Walters came in as coach in 2016 that he was handed a regular starting position in the second-row.
"It was a big thing to just get named in the Origin side, but ever since I came into the team I wanted that starting role," Gillett said.
"Now it has finally come and I am enjoying it, but I know I have to stick at it and do all the little things right to keep that role.
"I was on the bench for a while but you want to be out there for the full 80 minutes so that starting role is something I want to hang on to for as long as I can."
If he gets his way Gillett will continue his partnership with Broncos teammate Josh McGuire who has now established himself as a starting Queensland lock.
"It is good having a familiar face like Josh there and he had a great series last year," he said.
"It really showed how much that jersey means to him and to be named our best player of the series was something special for him."
2018 Holden State of Origin Game III is coming to Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday, July 11. Don’t miss your chance to secure tickets at NRL.com/tickets