Gillett just gets better: Hogan
WHILE Dane Hogan was helping Mackay disassemble the Sea Eagles at Bokarina on Sunday, his childhood friend and fellow Bribie Island product Matt Gillett was in camp with Queensland in Melbourne.
Hogan was battling to resurrect his NRL career. Gillett was preparing to take his career to another level.
The back-rowers played together at Morayfield State High with another Bribie Island prodigal child, Gillett's Broncos teammate Jack Reed.
While Hogan, who is in the final year of his North Queensland Cowboys contract, would love to be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Gillett at Melbourne's Etihad Stadium against NSW tomorrow night, he is chuffed with his friend's dizzying ascent in the game.
Hogan echoes the faith the Maroons' selectors have shown in Gillett by naming him on the bench for his Origin debut, saying he adds another dimension to the side and will give it more impact.
"It's good to see a couple of boys from Bribie playing in the NRL … and now that he's playing for Queensland this week is a massive step for him and, yeah, I congratulate him on it," the 22-year-old said.
"He's just coming on in leaps and bounds. He just keeps on moving up. That's a credit to him."
Gillett, 23, was not identified as a potential NRL first grader until a relatively late age, but has been a revelation since making his Broncos debut in round one in 2010.
His mother Debbie recently told the Daily that he always had the ability to play at the highest level, but had to believe it himself.
"He always had the skill. I just think now that he's backing himself it's working for him," the ex-Australian schoolboy representative said.
"He's playing consistent club footy. I know it's another step up (playing Origin) and I'm sure he'll go out there enthusiastic and play well."
As for himself, Hogan is desperate to return to the NRL.
He debuted for the Cowboys in 2010 but has played only 10 first-grade games, having spent the past two seasons stuck in the Intrust Super Cup with North Queensland feeder club Mackay.
He is unsure about his future prospects, with the Cowboys yet to offer him a contract extension.
"That's my aim (to play NRL again)," he said.
"Just keep playing good footy down here and hopefully I'll get a run."