Mindset coach unlocks Cowboys' Tom Gilbert

·2-min read

Tom Gilbert credits North Queensland's club psychologist Jo Lukins for helping unlock his best form in what has been a stellar season for the back-rower.

The 22-year-old says Lukins and assistant coach Dean Young have been on hand with sound advice that has helped prime him to fire in the NRL preliminary final against Parramatta in Townsville on Friday night.

"Dean helps me understand what my job is for the team and what the team needs from me each week, and Jo is all about my mindset going into the game," Gilbert told AAP.

"They have both had a big influence on how I play on a week-to-week basis.

"Jo has been awesome for me since the off-season.

"She has taught me a lot about balance and how the stuff I do away from the field is just as important as what I do with my football.

"The key for me this season has been knowing when to switch off and switch on. That has enabled me to put more energy into my training sessions."

Gilbert made his State of Origin debut for Queensland in the 22-12 win in July's series decider and has enjoyed the best season of his career in the NRL

He said switching off and not constantly thinking about football had been a challenge for him in the past, but not anymore thanks to performance psychologist Lukins.

"I was probably putting too much pressure on myself," he said.

"Jo opened up a whole new world for me in terms of switching off. When it's late at night, or I'm going about my day-to-day business, I don't think about footy now."

Gilbert, who once wanted to become a journalist, is studying a business degree at university and often turns to books to unwind.

"I read biographies usually," he said. "I really enjoyed the Sonny-Bill Williams biography and learned a lot from him about being balanced as well.

"I read (actor) Matthew McConaughey's book and enjoy biographies about people from all walks of life. It has helped me adapt and learn from successful people."

Cowboys' assistant coach Young, who won a premiership with St George Illawarra in 2010, was a no-nonsense and team-first player who has been a role model for Gilbert.

"The way Deano played and conducts himself epitomises the kind of person I want to be," Gilbert said.

"He is very switched-on and hard working. He was not the flashiest player but his dedication to being good at the small things was second-to-none and that's why he had such a successful career.

"I have tried to learn from him and mimic some of those habits the best I can."