TONIGHT he will be the Maroons' man on a mission, but Matt Gillett used to be little boy blue.
Ahead of the State of Origin decider at Sydney's ANZ Stadium, Gillett's mum, Debbie, revealed yesterday that up until 13 years ago the Broncos back-rower barracked for New South Wales.
Gillett, 24, was born on the NSW Central Coast to a pair of staunch cockroaches - Debbie from Macksville and Peter from Sydney.
She recalls a young Gillett running around the backyard of their Bribie Island home, footy tucked under his arm and proudly showing off his sky blue jumper.
While the one-eyed hypocrites south of the Tweed will point to Gillett's previous allegiance as proof of the dubious nature of the Origin eligibility laws, Debbie is quick to shoot down that theory.
She said there was no doubt maroon pumped through his veins and Queensland pride resided in every fibre of his being.
His parents moved to the greener pastures of Queensland before Gillett started school and it took some years before he decided he was a Maroon.
She said Gillett's turn for the better happened around age 11 when he began playing junior footy for the Bribie Island Warrigals, and he had not looked back.
"He used to have a Blues jumper," Debbie told the Daily yesterday.
"We moved to Bribie Island when he was four.
"He adopted the Blues because my husband was fanatical - he loved rugby league, he talks rugby league all the time and was a big Blues supporter.
"We had all the Blues stuff - whistles and hats, everything.
"It wasn't until he started playing that he became a Queensland supporter."
Debbie said Gillett's passion for the Queensland jersey was so strong, he had even converted his parents into proud cane toads.
"Oh yeah, we've changed colours now - we've got all Maroons stuff," she said.
"I hope Queensland smash them."
Gillett, 24, will come off the bench tonight in his sixth Origin appearance and seems to have cemented a spot in coach Mal Meninga's plans for the future.
The Maroons have a legacy of sticking and picking, and Gillett has been earmarked as part of the team's "generation next" alongside Daly Cherry-Evans, Josh Papalii and Chris McQueen.
"I can remember when he was 16, we went to see the Broncos play the Dragons at Suncorp," Debbie said.
"Matt said to me 'I'm going to be out there one day, that's going to be me. I'm going to play Origin'.
"I just said 'yeah, I know'. I just had this feeling all along. Even in his teenage years when he said things like 'I can't do it, I'm not good enough' - all that stuff that teenage boys go through.
"But now he's grown up. It's fabulous."
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