In a team that can almost be defined by its pace and depth of midfielders, it can be hard for many to stand out over the likes of Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom, but Collingwood can rest assured knowing the calibre of player that they can turn to when needed.
The Magpies’ hard fought win over Carlton came down to an explosion in the fourth quarter, to ultimately see them over the line. While Patrick Cripps was his usual self on the other side, and Sidebottom and Adam Treloar showed out as expected, Phillips showed what he could do when put in a tough situation with the match on the line.
In his young career he has shown a lot of promise, racking up a Rising Star nomination in 2017 on the back of showing his elite running prowess for the Magpies, before following that up with another breakout season in 2018, improving so much throughout the first half of the year that some had touted him to be a potential All-Australian. While he isn’t quite there yet, Phillips’ work on the wing helped Collingwood nearly snatch a Grand Final win, a great achievement in his young career.
This season he has only gotten better, so far boasting averages of 26 disposals, 6 marks, 4 intercept possessions as he runs up and down the wings all game. Although his accuracy can be improved, Phillips has shown his growth as a player, particularly as he is still only 22 with plenty of time to get even better as a footballer.
Against Carlton he had his best showing for year, finishing with 34 touches, 11 of them contested, 2 goals, 4 marks and 7 inside 50s, as he proved to be a consistent thorn in Carlton’s side. Collingwood are looking to push for another shot at a Premiership and always look to dominate the midfield and explode forward, Phillips’ running is integral to this gameplan.
A special mention must also be had for Josh Dunkley of the Bulldogs, whom in the win against Brisbane followed one impressive week with another, finishing with a mammoth 36 touches, 22 of them contested and 8 tackles.