Roller Coaster Continues for Phillips

 

Nathan Phillips talks about his temporary retirement, recovering from a second knee reconstruction and how a dream revived his WAFL career.

 

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In 2010 Nathan Phillips was voted South Fremantle’s Best and Fairest player despite rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament, a season ending injury, in round 14.

Further heartbreak occurred exactly 12 months ago when Phillips ruptured the same ligament in his opposite knee during a pre-season game for new club Subiaco.

The physical scars from the two knee reconstructions are plain to see, both of Phillips' knees are crisscrossed with the artwork of a surgeon's scalpel. But on the eve of his return to the football field, the physical pain is the last thing on Phillips' mind, it's the psychological scars that he’s dealing with, The 25 year old says he’s fully aware that if it happens a third time, his football career will be over and his lifestyle away from the game will be dramatically affected.

The silky half forward will return to the field in underwhelming fashion this weekend, penciled in for half a game in the Lions reserves when they take on Claremont on Saturday afternoon.

Phillips' first game in 12 months almost never happened after he stunned teammates and coaches by announcing his retirement at the beginning of the year.

"When I did my knee I made a pact with myself and my wife that I’d do the right thing by the club and get back to a point where I was fully fit and I could make a decision on whether I wanted to play again and I got to that point and I was really unsure about whether I wanted to keep playing footy just for my lifestyle and obviously having a second major injury and I was weighing up what that meant going forward for me.. life after footy." Phillips said.

An elite runner on the football field, Phillips chose to channel his energy into triathlons and spent two months finding his feet in the new sport. He says he found the new training environment very different.

"Going and doing something different for a couple of months allowed me to just realise how much I enjoyed playing in a team environment and that my body was still well and truly capable of playing at WAFL level and it just freshened me up basically,"

"To be honest two weeks before I decided to come back (to football) I had a dream, it sounds a bit corny but I had a dream, I was two days out from my biggest triathlon of the season and I dreamt that I got the call up to play in the WAFL Grand final and I woke up and it sunk in that my mind was still thinking about footy and my body was a lot fresher and my head space was good again," he said.

"I did my triathlon and I went well but after making that decision in my head that I wanted to be playing footy the triathlon was a bit of a drag." he said.

Subiaco Football manager Luke Sanders says he was rapt to get a phone call from Phillips a fortnight ago.

"I asked him if he was 100 percent sure about it and he told me he how committed he was so we welcomed him back with open arms. It's great to add a player of Nathan's calibre back into mix." Sanders said. 

After stints at Peel (9 games) and South Fremantle (42 games) the silky goal kicker is set to line up for his third WAFL club in a career that's best described as a roller coaster ride. Phillips says he's sick of the ups and downs and says Saturday's hit out is the first step to a long and steady career as a Lion.

"I've got a really good feeling about this year… I'm super excited about it… its been a long road since coming to the club, I haven’t officially played yet, the body’s feeling fantastic and really excited about being a part of it." he said.

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