RUGBY LEAGUE: Former Queensland forward Chris Flannery believes Sunshine Coast product Matt Gillett is now the world’s premier backrower and says he’s only just starting to hit his straps.
The 27-year-old produced a breakthrough performance for the Maroons in their 6-4 win over New South Wales in this year’s State of Origin series opener in Sydney on Wednesday night.
The man-of-the-match showing, which included 42 tackles, was promptly praised by many of the code’s leading authorities.
But it’s just the beginning of big things from the ex-Bribie Island Warrigal, according to Flannery.
“I think he’s the number one backrower in the game at the moment (and) I think he’s just coming into the prime of his career,” he said.
“He’s taken a couple of years to become a regular in the Broncos side and now he’s moving up the ladder into that top echelon of players.
“He’s the prototype for back rowers at the moment.
“With the game now having fewer interchanges (from 10-8) the two second rowers are having to play 80 minutes. We’re starting to see these big, tall backrowers who do the most work in their teams.”
Gillett represented his state for the 13th time.
“He was really whacking the NSW players in defence and he can run a great line in attack, especially off the halves,” he said.
“He does run a lot of decoys but when he does get hit with a ball on those runs, more often than not he breaks the line or pokes his nose through.”
Gillett has also played for Australia twice.
“I think it’s great having a Sunshine Coast player, someone who has come through the local system, go on to play State of Origin and for the Kangaroos and not just play but be a stand out in those jerseys,” Flannery said.
Gillett donated his man-of-the-match winnings to the Sunshine Coast Falcons’ Footy - Rugby League for Children of Different Abilities program.
“He gives up his time to help run the program and we’re lucky to have him. Donating his winnings was a wonderful gesture,” Falcons CEO Flannery said.
More on Gillett’s role with Falcons Footy to come.
By Steele Taylor of Sunshine Coast Daily
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