My first impressions of Phil… well, it’s a bit of an interesting one actually.
When I started at the Giants as an 18-year-old, I didn’t really know what I was walking into.
As one of our three co-captains at the time, Phil stood tall. Although he was only 22, it felt as though he was 10 years older than the rest of us.
Having been at Adelaide for two seasons prior, he knew what it was like to be in an AFL environment. He was the perfect person to look up to in terms of what to do and how to go about your life as a professional.
Since that time, he’s only grown in his role as co-captain with Callan Ward. Like me, Phil can be a bit of a stress-head but over time he’s learnt that you can only control what you can control and there is so much beyond that.
As he grew, he shifted his focus to things he could control. One of which is his performance on the field. Focussing on his footballing ability, he’s been able to take his performance to an outstanding level and at the same time bring the boys along with him.
From the outside, people don’t know how much time and effort he puts into the playing group as a whole. The impact that he’s had around the club and the way he leads by example has enabled him to improve players in different areas.
Before becoming a board member of the AFL Players’ Association, he was a long-time delegate. As a new club filled with young men who hadn’t played AFL before, our understanding of the system was limited. Phil drove our understanding of what the PA do and how we can best maximise our time in the game and we’re now able to reap the rewards because of him.
Away from the football field, he’s different to the Phil you come up against each weekend. On the field, he’s Phil the full-back and co-captain of the Giants but when he’s not there, he’s just your regular guy.
The amount of care he shows for everyone – coaches, administration staff and players – is incredible. Phil always takes a vested interest in who you are and what you do. His ability to understand everyone and manage being a captain and a friend, is amazing.
The one thing that always come to mind when I reflect on Phil as a person is how much of a fighter he is. There are people who don’t understand the extent of his kidney injury from 2014 but I witnessed first-hand just how serious it was because I was living with him at the time.
He spent so many days in the ICU and then he wasn’t able to get out of bed but he kept fighting and returned to play football around 15 weeks later. To come back and play football alone would have been remarkable but the way he came back and lead the team sums him up as a person.
Now, onto the not-so-serious stuff. For six and a half years, Phil lived in the west. When we would split the playing group into two he’d support the west side boys but now he’s jumped to the other side of the bridge and switched allegiances.
He can be seen strutting his stuff along Bondi beach. But, he’s originally from Canberra – it depends on what day you speak to him, though.
He’s a Canberra boy at heart but as soon as he arrived in South Australia, they roll the red carpet out and he becomes the mayor of Adelaide.
Phil’s one of the most active guys I know and it’s probably a good thing because he loves to tuck into a finger bun from Bakers Delight.
We’ve become quite similar after living together for such a long time and adapting to each other’s ways – like buying tooth brushes in bulk.
All in all, Phil is a great person and a great mate.
Good luck in your 150th!