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Phillips happy playing his role

Change of scenery The Pies headed to the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre as they build up to taking on Geelong on Sunday.

Tom Phillips is not getting carried away despite being in career-best form so far this season.

The speedy midfielder, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on May 7, has featured in all seven of Collingwood’s home and away matches in 2018.

He has averaged 28 disposals and six marks per game, which is a solid increase on the 21 touches and five marks he averaged across 18 AFL appearances last year.

Thanks to his consistently good performances, Phillips has cemented his place in the midfield alongside superstars like Scott Pendlebury and Adam Treloar.

“I’m enjoying the season,” Phillips told Collingwood Media.

“I’m happy to be playing in a really strong side at the moment, and I’m just focussed on playing my role.”

Having played in two TAC Cup premierships with the Oakleigh Chargers, Phillips was selected by Collingwood with pick 58 in the 2015 national draft and impressed with his running ability during his first pre-season at the Holden Centre.

He made his AFL debut in the 2016 Queen’s Birthday match against Melbourne and played six games in all that year.

Phillips elevated his game early last season to the point where he won a Rising Star nomination for his 24-disposal effort in Collingwood’s dramatic come-from-behind victory over Hawthorn in round nine.

Now, with a total of 31 appearances at the highest level to his name, he is beginning to feel like a bona fide AFL player.

And he has been one of the leading lights in the midfield as the Magpies have overcome a slow start to the season, winning four of their past six matches.

“We’ve got some really good talent in the midfield and guys that are working really hard week upon week,” Phillips said.

“I want to be one of those guys who’s working hard and backing my strengths.

“That’s all I put my form down to, really.”

Tom Phillips in action against Carlton in round three (AFL Photos)

Sunday’s clash with Geelong presents a big challenge, given the Cats will welcome back Gary Ablett.

But Phillips is excited about taking on Ablett, Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood, Mitch Duncan, Tim Kelly and other talented players who go through Geelong’s midfield.

“[Ablett will] be raring to go, back from his hamstring injury, so I think it’s really a good challenge for us and … arguably our hardest challenge to date this year so far,” he said.

“It’s going to be a tough ask for us, but the form we’re in and the way we’re playing, we’re definitely up for it, so it should be interesting.”

It’s been a big week for the Phillips household as Tom’s younger brother Ed has been named to make his debut for St Kilda against Fremantle at Optus Stadium on Saturday night.