North Queensland Toyota Cowboys forward Tom Gilbert has today announced he will depart the club following the 2022 season to return home to Brisbane on compassionate grounds.
Gilbert has appeared in 30 games for the Cowboys since debuting in the 2020 season and has emerged as a key contributor under Todd Payten over the past two seasons.
The 21-year-old relocated to North Queensland after graduating from Brisbane Grammar School in 2017 and just two years later claimed the Queensland Cup Rookie and Lock of the Year as an 18-year-old.
Gilbert has appeared in all seven games for the Cowboys this season, including a Man of the Match performance in last weekend’s win over the Titans and will remain a key member of Payten’s squad for the remainder of 2022.
“Tom Gilbert is held in the highest regard at our club and we are disappointed to see him depart,” Cowboys General Manager of Football Micheal Luck said.
“Tom has indicated he will return to Brisbane to be with his family and we fully support his decision.
“He has been the perfect example of what it takes to succeed at the top level of our game. His dedication to his craft, his teammates and our club has been exemplary since the day he arrived in North Queensland.
“Although he has indicated he will leave in 2023, Tom will remain a hugely important member of our squad for the remainder of this season.”
Gilbert described his decision to depart as the hardest of his life.
“I have loved every second of my time as a Cowboy. The thing which has always stood out for me is the feeling of representing this region. When you play for this club you represent more than just a football team, you’re representing a hard-working, underdog community and that’s a responsibility I’ve been honoured to uphold.
“This is the hardest decision I’ve had to make in my life, which is why it has taken me this long. 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 that I love, but supporting my family will always come first.
“I’d like to thank Toddy and Micheal Luck for everything they’ve done for me over the past two years and for supporting me with this decision.
“Individually I will leave everything I have on the park for the rest of this year because that will show the fans and the community how genuine I am about how much I love this club. That’s what I owe them and that’s what I’m going to do. Whilst I’ve only played 30 games, I am so proud to have been able to pull on a Cowboys jersey.”