AFL 2024: Will Phillips could be squeezed out of North Melbourne side

Ed BourkeNewsWire
Will Phillips played an important role on Nick Daicos for three quarters but could be squeezed out of North Melbourne’s starting 22 against Melbourne. Michael Klein
Camera IconWill Phillips played an important role on Nick Daicos for three quarters but could be squeezed out of North Melbourne’s starting 22 against Melbourne. Michael Klein Credit: News Corp Australia

Will Phillips’ future at North Melbourne remains doubtful as coach Alastair Clarkson is noncommittal about another tagging role for the former No.3 pick against Melbourne.

Phillips could again be squeezed out of the Kangaroos’ starting 22 on Saturday night as co-captain Jy Simpkin returns and Clarkson allayed injury fears for Luke Davies-Uniacke.

The coach said the star on-baller would be fine to play despite undergoing a scan following the one-point loss to Collingwood and sitting out the second half of the Roos’ main training session on Thursday.

“He’s fine, it was just a precautionary scan. We scan our players all the time when they’re tight or sore,” Clarkson said on Friday.

“It was a six-day break, this particular game, so we got an early scan this week – Jy (Simpkin) had one last Saturday just because he wasn’t quite feeling right.

“It showed some overload, so we just wouldn’t take the risk, but then he’s good as gold to play this week. With Luke, (the scan) showed nothing, so it was like, ‘let’s just play him’.”

Clarkson again maintained he had no regrets over withdrawing Phillips from the game at three-quarter time on Sunday despite his successful tagging effort on Magpies superstar Nick Daicos.

He did not believe the 22-year-old would have been able to match Daicos’ running in the final term, saying there were warning signs in the third term as the Brownlow Medal contender played 100 per cent game time.

Out of contract at the year’s end, Phillips has only played four games despite an impressive second half of last season and has been used in a tagging role even at VFL level this month.

With the Kangaroos poised to receive the No.1 pick in a draft heavy on midfield talent, he appears set to explore a trade.

“The thing that perhaps the wider football world don’t perhaps appreciate and understand is that the difference between playing top level, senior AFL footy, as opposed to VFL and in terms of the demands on the body and the run, is pretty significant,” Clarkson said about the decision to sub him off.

“Will, we thought at three-quarter time wasn’t going to be able to have the tank and the engine to keep up with Daicos for the whole last quarter, so that’s why we made the change.

“Daicos changed his position (to half-forward) and that didn’t suit us in terms of the way we wanted to play, so we made the change and we lose by a point.

“Everyone points to that as being the reason – as I said, ball misses one side of the post by a foot, we were right in that contest, and we were just rapt that we gave ourselves an opportunity against the reigning premier to be right in the game.”

Clarkson refused to comment on the AFL’s controversial justification of the last-minute umpiring decision that denied Bailey Scott a 50m penalty and set shot to win the game.

“I also heard the AFL explanation was we’re not allowed to comment. I can’t comment, I’ll stay away,” he said wryly.

Camera IconFormer North Melbourne captain Andrew Swallow has joined the Kangaroos’ board as a director. Wayne Ludbey Credit: News Corp Australia

Former captain and three-time best and fairest winner Andrew Swallow was appointed to the North Melbourne board on Thursday along with Jellis Craig executive chairman Nick Dowling.

The pair will fill the spots vacated by Anthony Stevens in March and Paul Dwyer, who the Kangaroos revealed had resigned earlier this month due to growing business commitments overseas.

Kangaroos president Sonja Hood thanked Dwyer for bringing “incredible business acumen” to the board as he decided to step away after six years.

Swallow and Dowling will need to stand for formal election at the club’s annual general meeting later this year.

“We’re thrilled to have people of the calibre of Andrew and Nick join the club board,” Dr Hood said.

“We’ve had a deliberate focus on developing a skills-based board to steer the club through the challenges of the next few years, on and off the field.

“Andrew and Nick bring strong and diverse skill sets which complement our existing directors. We now have experience across football, finance, legal, governance, medical, business, marketing, property and community.”

Originally published as AFL 2024: Will Phillips could be squeezed out of North Melbourne side

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