Cowboys’ forward Tom Gilbert is set for a homecoming when he takes up a deal to play with the Dolphins in their inaugural National Rugby League season.
The 21-year-old has signed a three-year deal with the club that will enter the NRL competition for season 2023.
Brisbane-born Gilbert is a Norths Devils junior, and the opportunity to play in the NRL closer to his family has been one of the main motivations behind his decision to join the Dolphins.
He will add some youth and enthusiasm to the Dolphins’ recruitment list of forwards, that already includes the experience of internationals Felise Kaufusi and Jessie and Kenny Bromwich.
Dolphins’ chief executive Terry Reader said the acquisition of Gilbert was a great pick up for the team, and a good story about an NRL player coming home to represent a club from his area.
“One of the key strategies for establishing the Dolphins in the NRL is to give more young local players the opportunity to progress to the elite level of the game,” said Reader.
“Tom is a perfect example of someone who may not have had to leave Brisbane originally if there were more opportunities to enter professional systems.
“We are very excited he has decided to come home to Brisbane and join us for our inaugural season.
“He is a young, tough and uncompromising forward who has now established himself as an NRL-class player.
“What is most exciting for the Dolphins is we know he has the best years of his career just ahead of him.”
Gilbert has played 30 NRL matches since making his debut for North Queensland in 2020 at just 19 years of age.
He was named the Rookie of the Year in Queensland’s Intrust Super Cup in 2019, and also represented both the Queensland under-20s team and the open age Queensland Residents side that year.
Although a middle forward through his junior career, Gilbert has shown his versatility by playing on the edge at second row in the NRL.
He has started in all seven of the Cowboys’ NRL matches in 2022.