The Dolphins have received a pre-season boost with Queensland forward Tom Gilbert already starting contact drills in his return from shoulder surgery as he eagerly awaits the arrival of another terrific 'Tom'.
The fiery lock forward is set to be joined by former Brisbane prop Thomas Flegler at training in coming weeks to give the Dolphins the menace and aggression they lacked at the back end of the 2023 NRL season.
Gilbert's return to action in 2024 will be a virtual new signing for the Dolphins.
When he dislocated a shoulder playing for the Maroons in the first State of Origin game of the series in Adelaide the Wayne Bennett-coached outfit were in sixth position just two points off the competition lead.
The 23-year-old did not play another match and the side slid down the ladder to finish 14th.
Gilbert spoke the words all Dolphins fans wanted to hear at training on Tuesday.
"I have started contact now," Gilbert said.
"There is no rush. I have three months to get everything sorted. In terms of running and being in the gym I can do everything. I feel fit and strong and ready to get into this pre-season."
Maroons and Australian representative Flegler and Gilbert both play with power, passion and a streak of old school no-nonsense.
They are two of the best young middle forwards in the game.
When Gilbert was at North Queensland his close friend and teammate Reuben Cotter was the forward that he forged a lethal combination with.
He's hoping Flegler can be that man at the Dolphins.
"I love the way Tommy plays. I love the way maybe we can complement each other," Gilbert said.
"We need to get our combination sorted, work hard and then we can talk about what kind of one-two punch we can be."
Gilbert set standards from the moment he turned up at the Dolphins last pre-season. His loud voice can be heard at training, constantly driving his teammates on.
On the field he is a relentless presence, just like Flegler.
"When Tom gets here we have to push him and have him pushing us so we can get the best out of ourselves so we can be the pack people think we can be," Gilbert said.
"Hopefully I can add something to the team so that we can contend with the top teams in the comp."
Australian Associated Press