The Dolphins’ recruitment strategy has received another tick with Tom Gilbert being elevated to the Queensland State of Origin team this morning.
When the Dolphins signed Gilbert to a three-year deal back in April, he was a young with 20-odd NRL games to his name.
Now the Dolphins will have a State of Origin-experienced forward on their books when they come together for their debut NRL season later this year.
Gilbert is replacing another Dolphins’ signing, Felise Kaufusi, who will miss the series decider after travelling to the USA to visit his sick father.
Kaufusi’s absence has brought Gilbert onto the bench for Queensland, with Jeremiah Nanai named to start in the second row.
Queensland coach Billy Slater said this morning that Gilbert was purpose-built to play for the Maroons.
“There is a fair bit to like about Tom - he has been playing well and has been on the radar for a while,” said Slater at the Queensland team announcement.
“He is the type of player you just want in your team.
“He works really hard in defence and I am hearing reports he is really fit as well.
“We are looking forward to having him in our team.”
Slater called Gilbert to let him know of his selection and said his attention to detail was one of the things that got him picked to play against NSW next week.
“The small moments (in games) are really important when you get to this stage,” said Slater.
“He sees them as important and that will be well received in our team because that is important to us.
“I realised this morning how much Queensland means to him and how much playing Origin means to him. It was quite an emotional (phone) call.”
1. Kalyn Ponga (Newcastle Knights)
2. Selwyn Cobbo (Brisbane Broncos)
3. Valentine Holmes (North Queensland Cowboys)
4. Dane Gagai (Newcastle Knights)
5. Murray Taulagi (North Queensland Cowboys)
6. Cameron Munster (Melbourne Storm)
7. Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly Sea Eagles)
8. Lindsay Collins (Sydney Roosters)
9. Ben Hunt (St George Illawarra Dragons)
10. Josh Papalii (Canberra Raiders)
11. Kurt Capewell (Brisbane Broncos)
12. Jeremiah Nanai (North Queensland Cowboys)
13. Tino Fa'asuamaleaui (Gold Coast Titans)
14. Harry Grant (Melbourne Storm)
15. Jai Arrow (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
16. Patrick Carrigan (Brisbane Broncos)
17. Tom Gilbert (North Queensland Cowboys)
18. Thomas Flegler (Brisbane Broncos)
19. Tom Dearden (North Queensland Cowboys)
20. Beau Fermor (Gold Coast Titans)
21. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow (North Queensland Cowboys)
22. Sam Walker (Sydney Roosters)