North Queensland teen Tom Gilbert wants to be thrown in the deep end against the in-form Panthers pack on Sunday but there is something he craves more.
"Unfortunately I haven’t won a game in Cowboys colours yet and that is hard to take," Gilbert told NRL.com ahead of the away trip to Penrith Stadium.
"Playing NRL is one thing but adding something to the jersey is another thing.
"I don’t want to be too harsh on myself but I don’t think I have done that yet. Maybe a win will make me feel a bit closer to adding something to the jersey.
"This weekend I want to be thrown in the deep end and really challenge myself. You need to be up for it every week, but we really need one hundred per cent effort for the 80 minutes.
"I don’t want to say much more because I want to let my actions do the talking and not my words."
The aggressive 19-year-old middle forward has lost all three NRL games he has played this year and with the Cowboys in 12th position on the ladder the season is fast slipping away.
Panthers v Cowboys - Round 10
Gilbert was filthy on himself when he was suspended for three weeks in just his second NRL game for a crusher tackle on Warriors prop King Vuniyayawa. His contrition, and reasons for that sorrow, will no doubt impress coach Paul Green.
"I was pretty gutted when I got the phone call from Peter Parr that I was going to the judiciary," Gilbert said.
"I wasn’t being too aggressive but when we broke it down with Greeny and had a look at the tackle it wasn’t smart by me. I needed to realise the situation I was in and make a better choice.
"I wasn’t angry at the suspension. It was a crusher tackle, but in first grade I need to be smarter because it cost the team."
Gilbert, who attended Brisbane Grammar School, is studying for a business degree at university and was considering becoming a journalist at one stage.
At the moment the main item on his agenda is solidifying his position in the Cowboys side.
Gilbert is a keen student of the game and as a lock forward he analysed the play of representative lock forwards Dale Finucane and Josh McGuire as he came through the ranks.
Now he gets to play with McGuire and he said there was a lot he could learn from the Maroons and Kangaroos forward.
"Josh has been great at helping me transition into being a full-time first grader. He is really big on all of us players doing our job and doing it well," Gilbert said.
"He doesn’t just do his job well, he does it more than he needs to. That is why he is one of our forward leaders because he goes above and beyond. I think we all need to take a leaf out of his book at the moment."
Gilbert has a great pedigree in the game and recently signed a two-year extension after he was the Intrust Super Cup rookie of the year in 2019 due to a stellar season with the Townsville Blackhawks.
He will never forget his call-up to the NRL this year for the round four clash with Cronulla, which came after he attended an Adopt-a-School appearance in the community.
"Greeny pulled me aside and I was definitely shocked," he said.
"I was overwhelmed with emotions and it is still hard to put into words how I felt at the time.
"You always say you want to play NRL and then when you get the opportunity it doesn’t feel real.
"When Greeny told me exactly what he wanted from me it really helped me prepare for the week."