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Dolphins forward Tom Gilbert said he is already focusing on the positives of a “six-month pre-season” after a shoulder injury in Origin I ruled him out for the remainder of the 2023 season.

Confirming on Tuesday, he will undergo surgery after dislocating his shoulder in last Wednesday’s series opener, the 22-year-old Maroons forward is already looking forward to the positives that can come with time away from the weekly grind of the game.

“When I dislocated my shoulder it fractured off a little bit of bone and it’s too unstable to try and rehab it and get back this season so the plan is to have surgery on Monday and unfortunately that means my season is done,” Gilbert said in a video posted on Tuesday.

“To be honest I’m positive about this opportunity I get, I can get other parts of my body right. I get to work on this shoulder and

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on my other shoulder as well.


“I’m still 22, so to have a bit of time off from footy without the collisions and the constant week-in, week-out grind, it’s going to hopefully prolong my career.

“It’s not just that, I get the opportunity to work on myself mentally; freshen up, change a few things and find some new habits.”

Joining the Dolphins from North Queensland in 2023, Gilbert has started at lock in 11 matches where he has got through 411 tackles in his new jersey, earning a starting place in Billy Slater’s second row in Game One.

Despite the immediate devastation of both his representative and club campaigns ending prematurely this year, the Brisbane junior said he refuses to let the lows of a season-ending injury overshadow his positive character.

Gilbert strikes against old club

“The biggest connotation that comes with injury is the negatives of being on the sidelines; time by yourself, long days of rehab, doing things you don't want to do,” he said.

“You don’t usually get six months off from footy, you don’t want it but what you can control is what you use that time doing.

“I just want to focus on the controllables and all the positives that can come from a long time out of the game.

“I’ve got a pretty long pre-season ahead so there’ll be no excuses coming into 2024 to be fit able and ready to go.”

With the Dolphins sitting in eighth position after an impressive start to their inaugural season, Gilbert said while it will be challenging to separate his absence from the outcome of teammates round matches, he is determined to be a positive presence to the squad.

Bennett’s long game sets up Gilbert as a Dolphin

“Obviously I will feel the weight of results obviously on the weekend, feeling like I can’t help but if I can separate myself from results and let the boys have their moments,” he said.

“Always being positive and optimistic about the weekend and having that affection on the group, I think that can be a real positive towards the team and our preparations each week.

“I definitely think that if I focus on not letting the results way on me personally and focus on making sure the team is ready each week.

“I think I could also learn from a coaching point of view and see the game from a different angle and their perspective, I think that could be a really unique opportunity.”

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Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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