BRONCOS utility Matt Gillett is racing against time to be fit for the start of the 2012 NRL season after undergoing shoulder surgery.
The Bribie Island product, who hopes to cement a second-row spot next season, had surgery earlier this month to repair a torn muscle in his right shoulder.
Gillett has been told it will take six months to fully rehabilitate the shoulder, but is hoping to be ready in five months.
The Broncos start pre-season training towards the end of next month and play their opening game of the new season in March.
Gillett carried the injury for most of last season, but said it only affected him in the gym.
"I can only do so much at the moment … it's a slow recovery, I think," he said.
"Hopefully I'll be ready for round one."
The 2010 Dally M rookie of the year, who missed a large chuck of last season with a foot injury, is keen to nail down a second-row spot in 2012.
"I'm hoping to have a good year next year - hopefully play some good football and hopefully play out my full year with the Broncos," he said.
"Hopefully I'll cement a spot on the team.
"I'd rather be playing second row."
Touted as a future Queensland State of Origin representative, the 23-year-old would love to make his Origin debut next season.
"You've got to play good at club level first and that will be my main goal next year - to play good, consistent football for the Broncos," he said.
"And hopefully if that happens, my name will get thrown in there with the Queensland side."
Gillett said Broncos great Darren Lockyer, who retired from the NRL at the end of the season, would obviously be missed but he was confident the club would find a player who could adequately fill the massive hole left by the legend.
Gillett replaced an injured Lockyer at five-eighth in Brisbane's preliminary final loss to Manly in September and although he had played the position previously, he is not considered a pivot.
He said the return of Test and Origin veteran Petero Civoniceva to the club next year would help negate the loss of Lockyer.
"He's been around the game a while now. I'm sure he'll do his best to keep the side going," Gillett said.
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