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Gillo: A much-loved Maroons star forced to retire

Queensland Maroons star Matt Gillett called time on his rugby league career today and wife Skye said there was no one harder to tell than his five-year-old daughter Harper. 

The 31-year-old was reduced to tears during the press conference at Brisbane Broncos as he shared he could no longer play the game he loved due to a serious shoulder injury. 

“When the season was finished I got scans and the results showed there was a large amount of damage in my right shoulder," Gillett said. 

“After that I sought out a number of medical opinions from a range of doctors who all said the same thing – the shoulder is beyond repair for me to return to rugby league."

Skye, Gillett's high school sweetheart, and children Harper, five, and Hunter, three, were there supporting the Bribie Island junior. 

Matt, Skye, Hunter and Harper Gillett.
Matt, Skye, Hunter and Harper Gillett.

Calls of "I love you daddy" interrupted the emotional occasion and were a fitting call of support for the man who has played 200 games for the Broncos since debuting in 2010, 20 games for the Maroons and 12 games for the Kangaroos. 

"From his first game in 2010, we've been there they whole way - his whole family has, his friends and then the kids, for a few years now, have pretty much come to every home game, to away games, Origin, when he played for Australia...  the kids, they're never going to forget," Skye said. 

"They definitely love it. The hardest person to tell was our five-year-old. 

"We just told her we're still going to support the Broncos as much as we can. We'll be going to all of the games, so she'll still get to go. We'll still be there, it'll just be different. Dad will still be there, working with the Broncos, supporting from behind the scenes."

Matt Gillett playing for the Maroons. Photo: NRL Images
Matt Gillett playing for the Maroons. Photo: NRL Images

Skye said she had nothing but admiration for her husband and what he had achieved. 

"I remember back in the days when he was playing for Redcliffe - he was a standout then. Playing for Norths, he'd always get the awards," Skye said. 

"Since getting the opportunity back in 2010 to play his first game for the Broncos, he has just been amazing ever since. He just plays amazing every time he goes out there. He never lets anyone down. He plays with all of his heart.

"I guess that was the biggest factor to put the boots up. He obviously can't go out there and play 110 per cent any more - he can't do as many tackles obviously, to defend.

He doesn't want to let his team mates down so the right decision was for him to finish where he has on a great milestone and great career."

Harper, who enjoys playing hide and seek with her dad, said he was quite simply, the best. 

"I love him because I like him," Harper said. "I like watching him when he runs out of the sheds because I love him."

Gillett, who first played in under-11s in Bribie, said despite being forced to retire, he looked forward to the next chapter in his life. 

"I thought I'd go okay today, but as soon as I sat down I could see the family, the kids, the staff and players - they got me a beaut. But I'm looking forward to seeing what's next," Gillett said. 

"Back in under-11s we were playing barefoot and that was very fun and enjoyable... just running around the paddock and enjoying team sport - there's no better feeling. The mates I made back then, I'm still mates with now.

"From Bribie to pulling on the green and gold jersey - I have always loved playing footy, enjoyed it and never wanting to let my mates down on the field is the way I've always tried to carry myself as a player.

"To come and play one game here at the Broncos was a great achievement, and then to play 200 is something special and to go from there, to represent Queensland and play 20 Origin games with them, I played with some of the legends of the game, and that's something I'm very thankful for. To have those people in my life and impact my footy career is something special. 

Matt Gillett in 2015. Photo: NRL Images
Matt Gillett in 2015. Photo: NRL Images

"My Maroons debut would be a standout moment for me. Even though it was down in Melbourne. I think I played just under 20 minutes. I remember running out there and looking around me, seeing the legends of the game I was playing with, I was just in shock. I didn't know what to think. 

"Then I came off the field. The 18 minutes went so quick. I was so lucky to get to play with some of the biggest legends of the game.

"For me, it has always been about doing my best at club footy first, doing the right things. 

The way I played my game was not letting my mate down beside me. That's the big thing with Origin. If you want to play Origin you need to be trusted to do your job, week in, week out. Players need to be able to have faith in you.

"It's about doing your best. It's not about the big plays in Origin, it's about doing all the little things that add up to the end result, and that's a win. Playing Origin doesn't take a lot of talent, just a lot of effort. That's one thing you do need to pull on the Maroons jersey. 

"Moving on from playing for Queensland, I got to represent Australia as well, which is something I never thought would happen in my wildest dreams. But it happened and I got to win a Four Nations and the World Cup as well. That's something I'll never forget."

Gillett said "any kids out there that want to jump into a team sport, go ahead and do it. You'll make some lifelong friends - that's for sure". 

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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