Gilbert: ‘people like him are the fabric of rugby league’

Published 2:00pm 30 August 2023

Gilbert: ‘people like him are the fabric of rugby league’
Words by Kylie Knight

Tom Gilbert super fan Adam Schubert was thrilled to meet his idol at Dolphins NRL training today, and it’s fair to say the feeling was reciprocated by the prop who described fans like Adam as the fabric of rugby league.

We were there to share the special moment, which was made possible thanks to the team at Ausbuild and Dynamic Bradview Roofing (DB Roofing).

After seeing a heart-warming post by Adam’s mum Monica, in the Dolphins NRL Facebook fan group, The Pod, about her son’s devotion to the Dolphins and passion for attending home games, James Clowes of DB Roofing knew he had to help. He enlisted the support of Dolphins sponsor Ausbuild to make it happen.

Adam, 22, met Gilbert after he had completed a light training session this morning. It was a moment his mum Monica and support worker Peter were also able to enjoy.

“Peter attends all the games with Adam because Adam has a season pass from Santa. He’s enjoyed the year. It’s been exciting watching the first year of the Dolphins,” Monica said.

“It was just the ultimate to actually meet Tom. He thought he was shorter than he actually is because they look shorter on the field.”

Ausbuild Joint Managing Director Matthew Bell said when DB Roofing approached Ausbuild with Adam’s story, they jumped at the chance to help make his dream come true.

“As official community partner of the Dolphins, Ausbuild is proud to use our partnership to help make once-in-a-lifetime experiences happen, and give back to the community,” Mr Bell said.

James said Monica’s post caught his attention and he asked Ausbuild for their help to make today’s meeting happen.

“I saw a post from Adam’s mum who spoke about how happy her son was to finally be able to support his team now that the Dolphins were in the NRL,” he explained.

“I noticed he was wearing a training shirt, so I thought I’d reach out to ask if he had a jersey. His mum replied that they were hoping to get him one for Christmas if they were able to.

“After chatting with his mum for a little while, I got to know more about Adam and his battles, which includes his struggles with his level 2 AS and moderate intellectual disability. I was really touched by his passion for cheering on the Dolphins at all their home games, and especially his favourite player Tom Gilbert.”

Gilbert: ‘people like him are the fabric of rugby league’

Special moment for Gilbert

Gilbert, who is recovering from a season-ending shoulder injury but has returned to light training, said it was a special moment for him too.

“Rumour has it that Adam was one of my biggest fans. He wanted to get down to training. I’m very fortunate to have great fans in the community. The Dolphins are very lucky that we’ve got very loyal members,” Gilbert said.

“To break it down and have your own individual supporters, like Adam who’s got his own challenges … if I’m able to make him happy and enjoy football, then I’m really privileged and honoured and humbled to be able to be in a position where I can make a difference to him. Also, it makes a difference to me as well.

“You can get caught up in the week-to-week grind of footy or for me it’s been rehab now … you remember what football’s about and what the NRL is about. It’s entertainment, it’s people’s lifestyles, it’s people’s hobbies, it’s people’s enjoyment and at the end of the day, that’s what footy’s about. It’s putting a smile on people’s faces, volunteers’ faces, the fans, the players, coaches and he’s a part of that. People like him are the fabric of rugby league.”

The importance of being a positive role model for fans of all ages is not lost on Gilbert.

“The big one for me, if I look back to when I was a kid, was being honest and hardworking. Something I always want to be is hardworking and honest … honest with people close to me and honest with people out there,” he said.

The prop is renowned for his work ethic at training, something that has aided his recovery.

“It definitely (has). Probably the other thing that’s helped me is the staff. I’ve been very fortunate to be around staff … they’ve gone leaps and bounds for me to aid in my shoulder recovery,” he said.

“That’s why I’m probably sitting here at 12 weeks and feeling really comfortable and in a really good space mentally and physically. I’m coming to training and still enjoying it each day.”

Gilbert: ‘people like him are the fabric of rugby league’

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