He is just 16 years old and still at school at BGS, but Tom Gilbert will run out for the Queensland Maroons in the U18s curtain raiser to State of Origin game II tonight (Wednesday 21 June) at ANZ Stadium.
The Year 12 boarder has previously pulled on the famous Maroons jersey, playing for the U16s team last year, but stepping up to the U18s just a year later will prove an even tougher challenge.
Tom entered camp at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast with his fellow Queensland teammates on Friday last week, before flying to Sydney yesterday. He said it was exciting to be part of the State of Origin set up.
"The experience has been great," Tom said. "It's humbling to be in a similar position to what you dream of and to practice with a good bunch of blokes. We've been training regularly, but our recovery and free time has been managed really well."
"We had the opportunity to meet the senior Origin boys at lunch the other day and be spoken to by Justin Hodges, which was a surreal opportunity. We are shaping up well for the game, our plays and set pieces are clean, so we are well prepared."
Tom was presented his jersey by current Queensland Origin player Darius Boyd and former player and now U18s Queensland coach Josh Hannay. Photos: QRL Media.
A versatile sportsman, Tom is equally adept playing rugby union. He has previously been selected for Queensland in rugby and last year was selected in the Australian Boys sevens squad. He is Vice Captain of the Brisbane Grammar Firsts team in the GPS competition this year.
BGS Director of Rugby Phil Mooney said Tom had worked hard for his achievements on the football field. "It is a great reward for Tom and the hard work that he has committed towards his athletic development," he said.
"I am sure that Tom will enjoy the big stage and be able to use his experiences positively next term when playing for BGS. We wish him the best of luck."