‘Time for me to step up’: Tom Gilbert set to return from injury for Dolphins NRL trial against Gold Coast Titans

Joel Gould
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Dolphins lock Tom Gilbert is fully fit after shoulder surgery and ready to take his game up a notch. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)
Dolphins lock Tom Gilbert is fully fit after shoulder surgery and ready to take his game up a notch. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

Dolphins lock Tom Gilbert will play his first game in nine months with a determination to reach new heights and form a lethal double-punch with prop Tom Flegler.

The 23-year-old Gilbert said he was mentally and physically in the best condition of his career after a full recovery from shoulder surgery.

The Queenslander will play in Sunday’s trial game against the Titans on the Sunshine Coast, his first outing since being injured in the opening game of last season’s State of Origin series in May.

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The Dolphins were solidly in the top eight when Gilbert was sidelined and his absence was a factor in them slipping out of finals contention.

The club have recruited fellow Maroons forward and former Brisbane prop Flegler this season, with Gilbert welcoming the firebrand’s arrival.

“Bringing another player like Tommy Flegler in ... he makes people around him better,” Gilbert said.

“You get a player like him in your squad ... I hope his form can make me better too, playing with him and off him.”

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 16: Tom Gilbert looks to take on the defence during a Dolphins NRL training session at Kayo Stadium on January 16, 2024 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
Tom Gilbert training last month. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images) Credit: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Gilbert said he wanted to iron out some “rough edges” in his game.

“Playing with a bit more composure, stepping up in the midfield and playing a bit more football in terms of attack,” he said.

“Defensively I don’t want to change too much, but making sure I am working hard, bringing energy and being the type of player the team needs me to be. That’s the biggest thing.

“I want to shed the tag of ‘coming back from shoulder rehab’.”

Gilbert said having “real quality touches and being able to link up with the backs” was an area of growth, but that while elite locks such as Isaah Yeo, Cameron Murray and Victor Radley were “genuine ball players” he was not looking to play like them.

“I don’t need to compare myself to others,” he said.

“We play a different style to other teams. It is having the composure to step up in big moments in defence and attack ... and being fit enough so I am making the right decisions.”

Gilbert can’t wait to rip into Gold Coast on Sunday.

“I’ve had a great pre-season and I am 100 per cent ready to go. I have been for a few weeks,” he said.

“I am mentally prepared for another big year. It is the fittest I have ever been.”

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