Gillett rises from ashes to be 30th 'Tosser' Turner Medallist

Twelve months ago Maroons veteran Matt Gillett wondered whether he would play football again but on Sunday he will be the 30th recipient of the Dick "Tosser" Turner Medal for notching his 20th Origin game for Queensland.

The 30-year-old’s durability and resilience to fight back from three fractures in his neck which, along with shoulder surgery, limited his 2018 season to just five NRL games has been remarkable.

The Maroons have a poster display in their hotel team room in Perth of the 29 players that have received the FOGS Tosser Turner Medal, named in honour of Queensland’s late and great former team manager.

Gillett will become the 30th when he lines up in the back row on Sunday against NSW at Optus Stadium in Perth.

"I am aware it's a very special honour," Gillett said.

"Being up the in the [team] room, it has all the names and faces of the guys who have been given the medal and to get my face up on that as well will be pretty humbling.

"Those boys that have done it before me have been great players and they have shown the way on what it means to be a Queenslander. I feel a bit out of place. The boys have done a lot in this game and had a lot of success."

Gillett journeyed deep into some dark places last year. Whether he would play again was one concern. Whether he would be able to play with his children again also crossed his mind.

"There were tough times there but you always expect the worst when you get such a serious injury,” Gillett said.

"A few times I had thoughts about whether I would play football again or do things with my family, so to get back in this representative side was a very proud moment for myself and my family. It was such a great honour and it's a special feeling you don't want to let go of.

"It was a weird one last year. The fractured neck, I just had to let it heal and then I was confident I would come back and play rugby league again. It happened pretty quick. It was just a matter of time. It was always a goal to get back and be part of this Queensland team. We are here to get the job done and hopefully we get that win."

Gillett reflected on the call he received from Kevin Walters before Origin I this year to notify him of his selection after missing all of the 2018 series. It was a moment laden with meaning after just celebrating a special milestone for his mother Debbie.

"I just got home. I was out at Bribie at mum’s 60th having a late lunch and I came home to get the call on Sunday night as I pulled into the garage,” he said.

"The wife and kids were in the car as well so that gave me goosebumps. It was a proud moment. I always wanted to be back in the team and once I got the call it was a special moment and one I won't forget. I am very grateful to Kevvie and I won't let him down."

Gillett has the same mentality as former Maroons teammates such as Nate Myles and Sam Thaiday, forwards who blazed a trail for the Broncos stalwart to follow.

"You come into this team and it feels like you have been here so long. That’s the culture of this place, they make you feel at home," Gillett said.

"Those forwards have really shown the way on what it means to be a Queenslander. Those players are the guys who made me feel like a part of this team. It's like a little family. Once you get into camp, you all get along so well and really enjoy the moments, more so off the field. Getting that win is more important."

Gillett said all of the Tosser Turner Medal winners "blow me away".

"I want to keep representing Queensland so I expect to do my job on the field and that's why I keep getting the jersey for Queensland," he said.

"I really look up to those great guys and the path they showed me and what I have to do on and off the field. We have a great bunch of blokes who will get to this point and play 20 games for Queensland so I want to show them right from wrong."

Tosser Turner Medallists

  • Martin Bella
  • Greg Conescu
  • Trevor Gillmeister
  • Allan Langer
  • Gary Larson
  • Wally Lewis
  • Bob Lindner
  • Darren Lockyer
  • Mal Meninga
  • Gene Miles
  • Steve Price
  • Dale Shearer
  • Matt Sing
  • Darren Smith
  • Paul Vautin
  • Kevin Walters
  • Shane Webcke
  • Petero Civoniceva
  • Cameron Smith
  • Johnathan Thurston
  • Nate Myles
  • Billy Slater
  • Brent Tate
  • Greg Inglis
  • Sam Thaiday
  • Matt Scott
  • Cooper Cronk 
  • Justin Hodges
  • Darius Boyd