Broncos face bidding war to keep Gillett
THE Broncos face a fresh multi million-dollar battle to retain Matt Gillett following revelations the Queensland Origin and Test star is a free agent.
The Courier-Mail can reveal Gillett - Brisbane's No. 1 back-rower - has a clause in his lucrative $3 million contract that enables him to test his value and source offers from rival NRL clubs this season.
The Gillett development comes as the Broncos prepare to make some critical retention decisions, with fellow forwards Matt Lodge, Tevita Pangai Jr and young gun Jaydn Su'A also off-contract at season's end.
Gillett is considered one of the best forwards in the code and Brisbane appeared to have averted any threat of a poaching bid when they brokered a four-year deal with the Maroons ace in September 2016.
But it is understood Gillett's contract contains a two-year option in his favour. That means the Kangaroos back-rower is officially off-contract this season, leaving the door ajar for NRL suitors to tempt him with $1 million-plus offers.
Gillett is happy at the Broncos and it would take a gigantic offer from a cashed-up NRL rival to prise the Bribie Island junior from a club where he has become a Test and Origin campaigner.
But the Dragons' successful poaching raid on Gillett's former teammate Ben Hunt, who inked a $6 million deal with the Red V 15 months ago, is evidence the Broncos cannot undervalue their stars.
It is believed Gillett's current deal with the Broncos is worth around $750,000 a season but he could pocket upwards of $1 million annually on the open market following the increase of the NRL salary cap.
Broncos legend Darren Lockyer said he didn't know the finer points of the deal but hopes Gillett will finish his career at Red Hill.
"I don't think anyone who is a Broncos fan would ever like to see Matt leave. Hopefully he stays," Lockyer said.
"Matt is a quality person. He has matured into a very professional and reliable player.
"He is also a great mentor with his actions for some of our younger, talented forwards coming through. They can learn from his hard work and preparation.
"Our preference would be that he doesn't go to market."
It is rare for a player to negotiate a two-year option but at the time of Gillett's deal, there was huge uncertainty over a salary cap figure under the code's next Collective Bargaining Agreement.
With the salary cap and CBA having since been finalised, Gillett has more market certainty. The 29-year-old was reluctant to discuss his contractual status yesterday but said he hoped to remain at the club which delivered him an NRL debut in 2010.
Asked if he will be at the Broncos for the long-term, he said: "I hope so ... unless you know different. I'm looking to stay here.
"The Broncos have allowed me to play football and be who I am. Staying in Brisbane and around the family is a pretty big priority. I'm grateful they gave me the opportunity.
"Being a footy player, all the help you get here on and off the field is pretty special. The Broncos definitely look after you."
The Broncos are hopeful of retaining Pangai Jr and Lodge, who will spearhead Brisbane's front row in Friday night's clash against Wests Tigers in Sydney.