Dolphins’ forward Tom Gilbert is excited about his move to the Redcliffe peninsula and being a foundation player for the NRL’s newest club.
He modelled the Dolphins’ away jersey for the media this morning and revealed why he made the move from the Cowboys.
Gilbert, 22, is now living on the Redcliffe peninsula and counting down the days to the start of his preseason on December 1.
The former St Patrick’s College student knows the area well, with family still at Sandgate, and is keen to immerse himself in the community, following the advice of Redcliffe Dolphins junior and rugby league legend Brent Tate.
He is one of the Dolphins’ biggest signings after a breakthrough season with the Cowboys and making his Maroons debut.
And he’s thrilled to be back in greater Brisbane.
“It’s something special, playing where I grew up and having family down the road but also an inaugural member of that squad as well,” Gilbert says.
“It’s pretty special as well and something that I’m very grateful for but something that I understand has a lot of expectation. There’s a standard to be set and something that I’m really excited to be a part of.
“I started at 15 with the Cowboys and built my reputation, my lifestyle and standards at Townsville. Obviously, being down here in itself is different but it was a decision made for family. At the end of the day, I’m always going to be a family man.
“I’m really happy standing here today in the Dolphins’ jersey. It’s something I’m really proud to represent – it means family, it means being back home. At the end of the day, it was an easy decision.
“I love the Cowboys, I love what they are doing at the moment and I support them, but I’m a Dolphin now and I’m proud to be a Dolphin. I’m really excited for what’s ahead.”
He’s particularly excited about the opportunity to play with and learn from the Bromwich brothers, Felise Kaufusi and Sean O’Sullivan.
“I’m very lucky. I’m young and still only coming to understand what first grade’s about but I think for me to go to that next level, I need players like Jesse, Kenny and Felise around me to really support me and take me to that next level on and off the field,” Gilbert says.
“When I was talking to Wayne, and when I was going to sign the contract, that was what gave me a lot of comfort for my footy was to be able to be around these blokes, day-in-day-out.
“If you look at the bigger picture, we’ve got Ray Stone coming from Parramatta and Sean coming from … he’s been at the Roosters and Penrith, really successful organisations. I’m coming from the Cowboys who were at the bottom and found our way to the top pretty quick. If we can blend in right together we can learn off each other.”
The opportunity to learn from Super Coach Wayne Bennett was also a drawcard, with Gilbert appreciating Bennett’s honesty and insight into his game.
“That was something that was pretty important to me. I’m young in my career and to go to that next level, I need to be coached, I need to get advice and I need other people to help me,” he says.
“I’m coming here to be under one of the best coaches to ever coach in the NRL and some of the best leaders in the NRL. That’s an opportunity I didn’t want to go to waste.”
Gilbert says being part of the historic clash with the Roosters in round one, honouring league immortal Arthur Beetson, will be a privilege.
“We’re very lucky that we get to play in the spirit of Artie. Also, to play a club like the Roosters with a rich history as well, that’s pretty special. It’s really special to be a part of that and it’s something I think both clubs are really going to enjoy,” he says.
“For Artie, it’s what he wanted to see happen and we’re lucky … I’m very lucky to be a part of that.”
In the meantime, he will be working on his mental and physical fitness, and learning the team song so he can lead the chorus when the Dolphins record their first win.
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