Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens has revealed Broncos lock Matt Gillett is a serious contender to play in next month’s Anzac Test.
A Kangaroos jersey is in Matt Gillett’s reach as the Brisbane Broncos lock confronts Gold Coast’s star-studded back-row in Friday night’s NRL local derby.
The unlikely top-of-the-table clash has grown in importance for Gillett after Test coach Tim Sheens revealed he was a serious contender to play New Zealand in the May 2 Anzac Test.
With the injured Paul Gallen in doubt and Luke Lewis all but ruled out, Sheens is putting the Maroons utility under the microscope for a potential Test debut.
“I think how the Broncos have gone with their early-season form, Gillett has been very good,” he said on Thursday.
“Young Gillett was very unlucky not to go (to last year’s World Cup. So he’s really started this season on fire, so I think there’s going to be a lot of selection headaches for me.”
While he missed the 24-man World Cup squad, Gillett has suited up for the Kangaroos after being picked as a non-playing 18th man in 2012.
His chances of taking the last step would undoubtedly be boosted with an impressive showing against the Titans, who boast a quality representative back-row and big, experienced forward pack.
Test incumbent Greg Bird, a rejuvenated Dave Taylor and former Maroon Ashley Harrison will start while Queensland second-rower Nate Myles will also feature.
Bird is braced for an intriguing contest with Gillett and Sam Thaiday down his left side of the field, while also commending the Broncos for shifting Corey Parker into the front-row.
“Young Gillett has been real strong and I like the way they have restructured their forward pack and got all their threat on the field at the one time,” Bird said.
Sheens isn’t short of options heading into the Anzac Test, also backing Parker and Anthony Watmough as enduring contenders.
Titans coach John Cartwright predicted the in-form Bird would make life tough for the Broncos who are still smarting from their 25-18 upset loss to Parramatta.
“The bigger the game the bigger the occasion, the better Birdy goes for us,” Cartwright said.
The ladder-leaders only have a five-day turnaround following their 28-26 upset of Melbourne.
But the Titans have been boosted by the return of five-eighth Aidan Sezer, while centre Maurice Blair has replaced Brad Tighe (shoulder).