How a Husky voice snared a Bronco for life
It was one of the Broncos most notable success stories of the century and it all came down to one man's love of his pet dog.
Had there been no Ruski The Husky, Matt Gillett's 200-game career for the Broncos would almost certainly have never happened.
He would have been off to Bondi Junction to play for the Sydney Roosters.
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In 2009, the Roosters' financially superior offer was on the table. Gillett had been advised to take it. He wanted to take it.
But he just couldn't because some things are more important than money and the loyal 11-year-old pet Husky who saw in and saw out Gillett's career is one of them.
Ah, the power of the pooch ...
The story of how Ruski delivered Gillett to the Broncos never came up at his emotional retirement last week but it is a (dog's) tale that must be told.
We'll let Gillett tell the story …
"I had a year at (Brisbane) Norths and Ivan Henjak was coaching the Broncos at the time and he came to me halfway through the year and offered me a contract for the 09-10 pre-season.
"The Roosters came in with an offer which was better than the one from the Broncos. I was tossing it up and it looked as if I would take the better offer from the Roosters.
"I had Ruski with me and I had the conversation with my manager about where I was going to stay in Sydney. He said, 'obviously you will have to stay in a unit'.
"I said, 'I can't do that'. I did not have the funds to afford a house which had a yard in which I could have kept the dog. I said, 'mate I cannot come. I have my dog with me and I just can't leave him in Brisbane by himself'.
"My manager was pretty angry about it. We had a bit of a fight about it. But I just could not leave because there would have been no room for my dog.
"Luckily enough there was an offer from the Broncos. At the time I had only had my dog for a couple of years. It is like having children.
"You give their needs all your attention. It is a decision that worked out very well for me.
"The things I have achieved at the Broncos are ones I will forever feel grateful for. And Ruski is still around. He has lasted longer than I have ...''
Indeed he has. In many ways Gillett's affection for his dog fits neatly with the image he portrayed at his retirement press conference, that of a kind-hearted, modest soul who was a lion on the field but more lamb off it.
Gillett is not the first sportsperson to be besotted with their four-legged companions.
Top English golfer Tommy Fleetwood used to take his dog Maizie on tour with him and even let her sit at the dinner table when he was having fish and chips.
Fleetwood dedicated his fourth European victory to Maizie as it came a few weeks after she was diagnosed with cancer.
Tennis great Jimmy Connors once had six dogs and when he took several of them for walks he would tell people he was out with "my psychologists".
Some would find that funny but Ash Barty would get the point because she says one of the highlights of her return to Queensland is the greeting she gets from her three pet dogs, proving that though man's best friend is his dog, many females feel the same way.
THE GOOD: Melbourne Cup winner Vow And Declare, owned by a group of ordinary Australians from the Sunshine Coast, proving you don't have to own a casino or an oil well to breed or buy a Melbourne Cup winner.
THE BAD: Frankie Dettori may be admired around the world as a champion jockey but his worst moments, like his reckless ride on the relegated Master of Reality in the Melbourne Cup, are poor.
THE UGLY: Former Bronco James Segeyaro turning up for a drug hearing dressed in an AC-DC shirt and having his lawyer "impress'' on ASADA that time is of the essence because he wants clarify on his future. Do you mind?