Broncos stalwart may be forced into early retirement
THE Broncos are bracing for the possibility of Origin star Matt Gillett retiring, with the Maroons hitman in danger of being forced to walk away from the NRL.
Gillett is fighting to feature in the NRL next season as he battles to overcome a series of injuries.
Gillett, 31, fought back from a broken neck suffered in 2018, managing to return to the State of Origin arena this year.
However he sustained a shoulder injury late in the 2019 season which has cast a cloud over his playing future.
Gillett is contracted to the Broncos until the end of the 2022 season and his possible retirement due to injury would have a considerable impact on the club's salary cap situation.
At present, the Broncos are unable to sign Melbourne Storm halfback Brodie Croft due to their salary cap and playing roster position.
Broncos players will begin reporting for pre-season training next week and it remains to be seen what Gillett's involvement will be.
It has been a tough two seasons for a player once regarded as one of the game's most feared defenders.
Gillett debuted for the Broncos in 2010 before earning a Queensland jersey in 2012 and Kangaroos honours in 2014.
He became one of the NRL's best back-rowers, but was restricted to five appearances in 2018 after breaking his neck in Round 1, an injury that wasn't properly diagnosed until a month later.
Despite not requiring surgery, Gillett did not return to the field in 2018, however he inked a four-year contract extension to remain at the Broncos until 2022 while recovering from the neck injury.
Gillett also underwent a shoulder reconstruction after being ruled out of the remainder of the 2018 season.
Showing great courage, Gillett made his NRL return in Round 1 of 2019 and made 11 straight appearances for the Broncos before playing the first two games of the Origin series, taking his Queensland tally to 20 matches.
However that is when a string of injuries crushed his season, and possibly career.
Gillett missed the Origin decider with a knee complaint then injured his back during training.
His return from the back injury coincided with the shoulder issue rising, but he managed to push through to make his 200th NRL appearance for the Broncos in Brisbane's disastrous 58-0 finals loss to Parramatta.
The finals debacle could prove to be Gillett's last NRL appearance if he is unable to overcome his health concerns.