Smith presents Gillett with 20th Maroons jersey

Queensland Maroons star Matt Gillett will line up for his 20th State of Origin game at Optus Stadium in Perth on Sunday.

The 30-year-old was 12 months ago unsure if he would play football again, but fought back from three fractures in his neck - and shoulder surgery - to get the call-up from coach Kevin Walters for the 2019 series.

Gillett becomes the 30th recipient of the FOGS Dick 'Tosser' Turner Medal for notching up 20 Origin games for Queensland; he is in good company on the list. 

Maroons legend and former captain Cameron Smith, who made 42 appearances for Queensland, was on hand before today’s captain’s run to present Gillett with his 20th jersey.

“You don't get here without a lot of hard work, a lot of sacrifice, a lot of passion for your state and jersey, and certainly Gillo has that in spades,” Smith said.

Cameron Smith and Matt Gillett. Photo: NRL Images
Cameron Smith and Matt Gillett. Photo: NRL Images

“It was my first time as full-time captain when Gillo made his debut - Game I 2012, and up until last year when he had his neck injury, he played 18 consecutive games. That's a big effort at this level... he played six series in a row.”

Smith said “Gillo was always someone I could rely on, he was always someone I knew was going to go out and do his job”. 

“Whether it be a tough carry out of our own end when they'd kick long or I'd look up I'd look up from dummy half and Gillo was there putting his hand up to carry it into a big tackle,” Smith said.

“Big tackles that need to be made? Gillo was usually the one involved. Change the momentum for us. He was always someone that I didn't have to worry about; I knew when he pulled this jersey on, he was going to go out and do the best he could.

“This is a pretty special jersey and a number that not too many guys get to achieve.”

An emotional Gillett thanked former Maroons coach Mal Meninga for giving him his first opportunity to don maroon. He said the team was “a big family” – one he was proud to be part of.

Matt Gillett during the Captain's Run at Optus Stadium. Photo: NRL Images
Matt Gillett during the Captain's Run at Optus Stadium. Photo: NRL Images

“It is a big family and when you come into this family you feel a part of it and that's why I play this game,” Gillett said.

"I know I'm not going to let the boys down each time I put this jersey on. I can't wait to rip in tomorrow.”

FOGS Dick 'Tosser' Turner Medallists

1. Martin Bella

2. Greg Conescu

3. Trevor Gillmeister

4. Allan Langer

5. Gary Larson

6. Wally Lewis

7. Bob Lindner

8. Darren Lockyer

9. Mal Meninga

10. Gene Miles

11. Steve Price

12. Dale Shearer

13. Matt Sing

14. Darren Smith

15. Paul Vautin

16. Kevin Walters

17. Shane Webcke

18. Petero Civoniceva

19. Cameron Smith

20. Johnathan Thurston

21. Nate Myles

22. Billy Slater

23. Brent Tate

24. Greg Inglis

25. Sam Thaiday

26. Matt Scott

27. Cooper Cronk 

28. Justin Hodges

29. Darius Boyd

30. Matt Gillett