Dolphins forward Tom Gilbert is staging a comeback from a shoulder injury that prematurely ended his standout 2023 season. Gilbert has his sights set on reclaiming his spot in the Dolphins’ starting 13 for their second NRL campaign.
‘Have to earn it’
Gilbert dislocated his shoulder while on State of Origin duty for Queensland back in June. The subsequent surgery and rehabilitation has the 23-year-old primed to participate in the preseason trials.
However, Gilbert acknowledges he will have to earn his spot all over again. “If I want to get that No.13 jersey – or a jersey at all – I’m going to have to earn it,” Gilbert said last month.
Tom Gilbert, inaugural Dolphins hero
Before going down injured, Gilbert had been a driving force behind the Dolphins’ impressive start to their debut season. His tackle-busting charges up the middle and rugged defence saw him earn selection for the Maroons. During the Dolphins’ inaugural season, his status as a local folk hero rose among the fans.
Gilbert believes the Dolphins are building momentum towards 2024, even after their late-season slide down the ladder. The returning forward is eyeing a spot in the engine room alongside new recruit Tom Flegler.
Flegler joins the Dolphins after a career-best 2023 campaign with Brisbane and Australia. Gilbert is keen to strike up a combination with the no-nonsense prop.
“I love the way that maybe he and I could complement,” Gilbert said. “We’ve got to get out there in the next three months when he’s back in January.”
Getting the abrasive Ray Stone back from injury is another key piece as the Dolphins look to push for finals football in their second season. With Gilbert fit again and Flegler coming aboard, the platform is set for the Dolphins to take a step forward in 2024.