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Young Pie named Rising Star

Luke Mason  May 22, 2017 8:00 PM

Phillips' inspirational journey While most players let their hair down, Tom Phillips used his off-season break to embark on an inspirational journey. Watch as the 19-year-old take on Run India.
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Tom Phillips is the AFL Rising Star nominee for round nine.

“He'll have one soon enough.”

So said Nathan Buckley when talking about Tom Phillips’ prospects of receiving a Rising Star nomination.

They were prophetic words: Phillips has been recognised as the AFL’s Rising Star for round nine.

Speaking as recently as last Thursday, Buckley had also noted Phillips hadn’t attended the AIS-AFL Academy, which is a trusted breeding ground for junior talent.

Phillips, it’s fair to say, has not had a typical journey to the top level.

He was drafted at the age of 20, having spent an extra year in the TAC Cup after he was overlooked in the 2014 National Draft.

A dual premiership player with the Oakleigh Chargers, Phillips spent time with VFL club Port Melbourne late in 2015. It was there that he collected 20 disposals and laid six tackles in a loss to Collingwood at Victoria Park.

Perhaps it was meant to be.

Three months later, Magpies’ recruiting boss Derek Hine read out Phillips’ name at the National Draft with selection No. 58.

He quickly left an impression, winning the annual two-kilometre time trial on his first day at the club.

Consistent VFL form saw Phillips land an AFL debut on the Queen’s Birthday last June, and he featured on a further five occasions in the second half of the year.

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Tom Phillips celebrates his first senior goal against Fremantle in round 14, 2016.

Now, 12 months on, there have been no signs of second year blues for the man from Donvale.

Phillips, who led the club for disposals throughout the JLT Series, has missed just one of the first nine games, averaging 20 disposals and three inside 50s per week.

Saturday night’s performance against Hawthorn was arguably the best of his 14-game career to date.

He won 24 disposals, laid three tackles and took the ball out of defence on four occasions.

Rightly, he has been named an AFL Rising Star.

The path hasn’t always been smooth, but it’s a story to be proud of.

Congratulations, Flipper!