The Dolphins have nabbed a steal with the signing of Tom Gilbert, who will become a State of Origin player tonight.
The north Brisbane product will come off the bench for the Maroons in the series decider at Suncorp Stadium, fulfilling a childhood dream.
His selection as an Origin bolter is a big win for Dolphins’ recruitment chief Peter O’Sullivan, who zeroed in on Gilbert as a prospect early.
Signed as an NRL player who had just 20 matches under his belt, the Dolphins will now be getting an Origin-experienced forward when pre-season begins in November.
Gilbert, who has been outstanding for the impressive North Queensland Cowboys this year, said family had brought him back to Brisbane.
It allies with the Dolphins’ goal of helping local products come home to play NRL.
“There were two decision that came with it – footy and personal life, and I had to weigh up what was more important,” said Gilbert in Origin camp this week.
I’ve enjoyed my time with the Cowboys and it was never that I didn’t want to stay there,Tom Gilbert
“There are just more important things at home that I wanted to make sure I was there for.
“When the opportunity was there to be back at home with my family, I couldn’t say no.”
Gilbert knows Redcliffe’s Moreton Daily Stadium, having represented the Maroons at the ground in the Queensland Residents team in 2019.
He has also played in the Qld under 18s and under 20s team, but knows tonight will be a much different prospect.
“It gives you an inspiring taste of what Origin is like and what it could be if you get the opportunity,” he said of the junior Queensland experience.
“But I am not going to lie – they were really good but I don’t think they are really a taste of what it is all about.”