Gillett plans to give his all in memory of lost mate
PROMOTED forward Matt Gillett has dedicated next Wednesday night's 100th State of Origin clash to his family and the memory of former Bribie Island Warrigals teammate Todd Parnell.
Parnell was the tragic victim of a senseless punch that ended his life in July 2009.
He had played a game for the Warrigals hours before attending a 21st birthday party that evening.
The man who struck Parnell was found guilty of manslaughter last September and sentenced to six years and nine months in prison.
For Parnell's parents - mum Jenny Stirling and dad Tony - and mates like Gillett, his death remains a constant reminder of how precious life can be and the need to take every opportunity and live each day as it comes.
Gillett, 25, has been named in Queensland's starting side in place of his injured Brisbane Broncos teammate Sam Thaiday (calf).
"Jenny is always leaving messages on my Facebook page wishing me the best of luck and Todd's dad Tony is always sending me good luck messages before I play," Gillett told APN as the Queensland players assembled in Brisbane yesterday to begin preparations for the opening game of the series.
"It's very special to have their support and no doubt they miss Todd terribly, but it's great they still love being involved in rugby league and follow my fortunes.
"It's great to be able to talk to them all the time. Jenny sends me so much support through Facebook, which is really good to read after I play a game."
Gillett said Parnell's death had impacted heavily on him and how he looked at life.
"I think it hit all of Todd's close mates. He was even closer to my brother and his mates, but we were good mates and when something like that happens it makes you think about life and just how short it is and how quickly it can be over," he said.
"You never know what is around the corner so you have to make sure you make the most of every opportunity you are given."
Gillett, who will make his seventh Origin appearance, plans to "buckle up" and enjoy the ride.
"I haven't been told anything yet, but I've got the No.12 jumper so we'll wait and see what (coach) Mal (Meninga) decides," he said..
The first 10 to 15 minutes of an Origin game is as crazy and chaotic as it is brutal and aggressive, and Gillett is steeling himself for first starting role in the side.
"If I'm in that role on Wednesday night, I'm going to have to just got for it, give it everything and see how long I can last out there," he said.