Gilbert: ‘I’m going to have to earn it’

Published 3:30pm 21 November 2023

Gilbert: ‘I’m going to have to earn it’
Words by Kylie Knight

Photos: Courtesy Dolphins NRL Media

Dolphins NRL Prop Tom Gilbert is already working hard at training to ‘re-earn’ his jersey after a season-ending shoulder injury forced him to watch much of the club’s inaugural season from the sidelines.

He’s also keen to work on combinations with new teammate Tom Flegler, when the former Bronco and Australian representative player joins the squad.

“The body feels really good, I’m feeling really fit, feeling strong, feeling like I’m ready to get into this preseason and get the best out of me and get ready for next year,” Gilbert said at training today.

“I’ve started contact (training) now. There’s no real rush, we’ve got three months to get everything sorted in terms of being in the gym and running – I can do everything the same – skills as well.”

The player, renowned for his work ethic, says he feels confident in his recovery from a season-ending shoulder injury suffered during State of Origin.

Gilbert said it was difficult not playing when the Dolphins were struggling last season as injury took its toll and tested their depth.

But there is plenty of optimism ahead of the 2024 season.

“We’ve got some good players coming. We’ve got a team who work hard, show a lot of humility … there was a lot of humility in terms of the losses and how we took them … that brings us to next year and where we’re at as a team,” he said.

“We’re in a really good spot.”

The other Tom

Gilbert is particularly looking forward to partnering with the other Tom … Tom Flegler.

“I think he’s coming into the form of his career … watching him and how quickly he accelerated in the space of a preseason to being a week-in, week-out first grader and being one of the best props in the game has been really awesome to see and we’re really glad we’ve got him,” he said.

“I’m excited to work alongside someone like Tommy (Flegler). My whole career, I’ve had one or another forward that’s made me become a better player. Hopefully by the same token I’ve been able to help them.

“I’ve talked about Ray Stone and Jeremy Marshall-King … they’ve made me better. Now, we get Tommy Flegler here … hopefully he can make me a better footy player.”

He said it wasn’t guaranteed and they would need to work hard in the preseason together to create combinations and a relationship as teammates.

Gilbert said while new faces would add firepower, the return of Marshall-King and Stone would also bolster the team.

“You can’t underestimate the effect Ray Stone has on a team as well. You need a Ray Stone in every team you play in. He’s so selfless the way he goes about his business. That’s why we love him,” he said.

“If we can get him back on the paddock for every game next year, it’s going to be huge for us. Jeremy Marshall-King makes every forward in our team better because of how he plays as a hooker. If we can get them (both) week-in, week-out they will make our team so much better.”

Gilbert said there was healthy competition for positions and he didn’t assume he would automatically slot back into the side unless he worked hard and played his best.

“If I want to get that 13 jersey, or a jersey at all, I know I’m going to have to earn it. Earning it is one thing … going out each and every week and adding something to the team … that’s important,” he said.

Gilbert: ‘I’m going to have to earn it’

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