No long-term concerns for Gillett despite season-ending injury
Wayne Bennett insists there are no long-term concerns for Matt Gillett in the wake of the Broncos back-rower being ruled out for the rest of 2018 with neck fractures.
Recent scans revealed improvements in the fractures but Broncos high performance manager Jeremy Hickmans said Gillett's long-term welfare was the priority.
Gillett is signed to the Broncos until 2022 and Bennett said his future playing career was not in jeopardy.
"There is no suggestions of any long-term risk at all," Bennett said.
"The doctors have erred on the side of caution. It is all progressing well and he is in great shape. The opinion was that he was probably better waiting until next year to play again so we are happy with that."
Gillett has been doing non-contact training after also suffering a calf injury and Hickmans, who said Gillett was "very close to being cleared", confirmed the representative back-rower would return in 2019.
"The club and Matt agree it is the right thing to take the cautious approach to player welfare in this case," he said.
"That will ensure an absolute minimum risk when he returns next year.
"In reality with his current calf problem and then with preparing to play again, Matt would have been unlikely to have been on the field before the finals."
The Broncos have inserted Tevita Pangai jnr into the back row in the wake of a season ending ankle injury to back-rower Jaydn Su'A and Alex Glenn, who has recovered from a wrist injury suffered against the Sharks last week, is set to join the Tongan international in the second row for Thursday night's away clash with the Canterbury Bulldogs.
The progression of 18-year-old bench back-rower David Fifita has also been a bonus for the Broncos in Gillett's absence since round five.
"If you are going to have those type of injuries you'd rather have them early in the season so you can get other guys into the position," Bennett said.
"We managed to get on without Matt, much as we'd like to have him. Other guys have handled the position pretty well so it is not something that is going to impact us."
Gillett said the decision to sit out the rest of the season was the right one.
"At the end of the day footy is only a small part of life and other things such as my family are more important,"Gillett said.
"Making sure I take the extra time sits fine with me, and I will just continue with my recovery and look forward to being back on the field in 2019."