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The Dolphins have added to their forward depth but remain in the hunt for a seasoned playmaker ahead of their NRL debut in 2023.
The Redcliffe-based club have confirmed 21-year-old Tom Gilbert will be leaving North Queensland to return home to Brisbane, where he played as a teenager for the Norths Devils in the Queensland Cup.
The Cowboys centre-forward or centre-forward, who was the 2019 Q Cup Rookie and Lock of the Year, joins experienced strikers Felise Kaufusi, Ray Stone, Jesse and Kenny Bromwich at the new club at from next season.
“It’s the hardest decision I’ve had to make in my life, which is why it took me so long,” Gilbert said. “I’ve been sitting on this for about four months, but it’s time for me to go home and be with my family – they need me.
“It means I’m leaving a club I love, but supporting my family will always come first.”
Wayne Bennett’s Dolphins are devoid of playing options and still without a man of mark.
Queensland retiree great Cameron Smith said during the week ‘the panic button is about to be pushed’ after Kalyn Ponga joined Reed Mahoney, Brandon Smith, Harry Grant and Jahrome Hughes in signing elsewhere .
They remain in search of five-eighth Cameron Munster from Melbourne, but the Queensland State of Origin star is committed to the Storm until the end of the 2023 season.
Bellamy: “Papaenhuyzen must be there” for the Blues
Storm coach Craig Bellamy says there’s nothing more star-back Ryan Papenhuyzen can do to prove he’s ready for the State of Origin arena.
Papenhuyzen won the Anzac Medal for his outstanding performance in his side’s 70-10 defeat of the Warriors on Monday night in Melbourne.
The 23-year-old is already on the radar of NSW selectors, who picked him in the squad for the year-end series in 2020.
He was tipped to land the bench utility role after a sensational big performance that won him the Clive Churchill Medal, but was ruled out before the first game with a calf injury.
Last year, he was dropped from the series due to debilitating concussion symptoms after a serious blow to the head during the Magic Round.
With outgoing full-back and NSW skipper James Tedesco unable to be unseated, Bellamy opted for Papenhuyzen to get a call-up again.
“I would love to see him in there and I think he deserves to be there,” Bellamy said.
“Tedesco has been a hell of a player for NSW and we know how many great full-backs we are allowed to play for NSW.
“It’s up to the coaches to decide, but the only thing I will say is that he can’t do more than he does to keep knocking on the door.
“And hopefully he starts there at some point.”
Papenhuyzen said he didn’t think too much about Origin’s selection and was focused on doing his best for the Storm.
“I’m at a pretty special club here where you feel valued no matter what teams you do and that’s what I’m pretty grateful for,” he said.
“I didn’t think too much about Origin to be fair, and that’s probably a good thing.
“You play good football and you get picked into those teams, but I’m on a good football team right now and I’m appreciated here and I like this team, that’s what I’m focusing on.”
Papenhuyzen spent 10 weeks of the 2021 season on the sidelines with concussion symptoms and a neck injury and said gaining more weight off-season helped him gain confidence.
Sea Eagles under pressure for Schuster switch
Manly is facing an issue over Josh Schuster’s desire to play five rounds with veteran Kieran Foran potentially in the line of fire.
Schuster’s management, according to Nine reporter Danny Weidler on 100% Footy, was promised by former CEO Stephen Humphreys that he would have a chance to play in his preferred position rather than second tier.
Foran was preferred to five-eighths last year as Schuster enjoyed a fine season as a striker. Schuster hasn’t played this season due to a pre-season ankle injury and is due to return soon.
With bench utility Dylan Walker joining the Warriors next year, Schuster could move to halves, relegating Foran to the bench. Foran is out of contract at the end of the season but the Kiwi veteran is keen to play in 2023.