Gillett inspired by text from Peats
An inspirational text from Nathan Peats has given Brisbane Broncos second-rower Matt Gillett confidence that he can return to his best from a broken neck.
After experiencing persistent pain since Brisbane's round one clash with St George Illawarra, Gillett was diagnosed with several neck fractures after the round five clash with the Newcastle Knights.
It was a crushing blow for the 29-year-old Maroons and Kangaroos star who feared the worst for his future.
It was then that Gold Coast Titans hooker Peats sent a message of encouragement.
Peats broke his neck in August of 2015 while playing for Parramatta after fracturing the C6 vertebrae in his neck while making a tackle against the Sydney Roosters.
He was told initially he may never be the same player again but delicate surgery overseen by Sydney neurosurgeon Dr Richard Parkinson saw him return to the playing arena and represent NSW in State of Origin. It is a story that had given Gillett a massive boost as he targets his own return for Brisbane.
"Nathan Peats sent a message to me explaining his surgery and what he got done and how he made a full recovery," Gillett told NRL.com at the launch of the NRL's Indigenous Round in Brisbane on Monday.
"He said that if I wanted to ask questions about how it all went for him, and recovery-wise, to just give him a call. I thought it was very good of him to reach out to someone with a similar injury.
"Nathan had a major operation on his neck and he is back playing hooker in a role where he has to make a lot of tackles, and he is playing fine.
"After his injury he has gone on to represent his state so that is good to see and very encouraging to know someone has come back from a neck injury that's a lot worse than mine."
Gillett does not require surgery and is hopeful of a round 17 return to action for the Broncos.
"It is all going alright. I don't really know how the fracture is healing because I've got three or four weeks before I get another scan done," he said.
"Once we get that I'll reassess and play it by ear from there, but apart from that I am doing everything I can at training apart from contact."
Gillett said he was "thinking the worst and about the 'what ifs'" when he received the initial news about his neck fractures.
"I thought I'd have a lot more time on the sideline than I will and that if I kept playing and something bad happened it would be hard to live with," he said.
"There are a lot of people with these injuries worse off than I am so I consider myself lucky. I know there is no major damage and the fracture is going to heal itself over time.
"I know I'll be able to play rugby league, the thing I love, so I'll just let the healing process takes its course."
Gillett said he sustained the injury in the round one clash with the Dragons but had no idea the injury was serious.
"It felt more like a nerve pain on the left-hand side," he said.
"My neck was a bit tight but I didn't think anything of it at the time.
"I just thought if I had treatment and got it looked after I could keep on playing.
"Then I got it looked at after the Newcastle game and we found I had fractures. I didn't know what a neck fracture was supposed to feel like because I've never had one playing footy."
Gillett hopes to be back for the final two months of the season and be part of a Broncos' run into the finals.
"Hopefully I can hit the ground running and the boys are in good form so I can jump in and do my role," he said.