Matt Gillett says he is ready to "nail' his new role for the in the middle of the park as the Brisbane Broncos prepare to nullify giant Melbourne Storm props Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Jesse Bromwich in the NRL round one season opener.
The veteran Test forward played at lock in Saturday's trial win over the Titans, and while formerly a right edge forward is set to spend more time in the middle. With club legend Corey Parker working with the forwards at training, Gillett also has one of the best exponents of lock play to lean on.
The Broncos are without behemoth Payne Haas for the opening four rounds and have four forwards – Gillett, Jaydn Su'A, David Fifita and Alex Glenn – who are essentially edge players who can also play in the middle.
How they perform in that capacity will be pivotal to the result of the Telstra Premiership clash with the Storm in Melbourne next Thursday night with boom forward Tevita Pangai jnr racing the clock to recover from a hamstring injury. The Storm will have noted the inroads the Titans' 126kg prop Shannon Boyd made against Brisbane in the opening 20 minutes of last weekend’s trial.
Gillett said he was pleased to get a game under his belt after 10 months out of the game with a neck and shoulder injury, and was ready to embrace a different role.
"I prefer to be an edge player but the way things are looking I might be in the middle for a little bit. It's a change but it's something I am pretty excited about," Gillett said.
"I have been stuck on the edge for a while now so the new role in the middle might be good for me. It might give me more time with my hands on the ball and a bit more involvement. Hopefully I can nail that role.
“My first training session was a bit chaotic, I was bit everywhere but I am learning and doing plenty of video. I will have a chat to Corey [Parker] about how he got around the park at 13 and what worked well for him. I can take a bit of advice from Corey because he did a great job."
Gillett said the versatility of the Broncos back-rowers was a bonus but with that came responsibility.
"Last week [the Titans] got a fair few offloads away and Melbourne have those big bodies who can get offloads. As a forward pack we will focus on limiting their offloads and slowing their play the ball down because they have a fair hooker there in Cameron Smith… but it's easier said than done," Gillett said.
"Across the board anyone can fill the back row and lock position. We have versatility there as a group to chop and change when we need to and in Su'A and David [Fifita] we have two young edge back-rowers who played some good footy last year and have really taken on that role.
"There are no excuses not to perform well as a forward pack. We just need to nail it. Out on the edge you have more time to rest and have a look at the game where in the middle you've got to get used to being on the ball more and being alive on every play."
Gillett said he would only get better after not overplaying his hand in last week's trial.
"It was just the shoulder, getting the contact and doing the wrestle and wondering if it was going to be stuck in an award position," he said.
"I just went out there and made my tackles and tried to be effective without going over the top and risking injury. It is only early stages, I have to build confidence. It might take a month or so to come out and whack someone. The more I do the more confident I will get."