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AFLW's brightest star mulls another medal tilt

Football

Crows AFLW premiership star Erin Phillips will meet with Basketball Australia in the coming weeks as she weighs up the Tokyo Olympics.

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The 31-year-old has plenty to consider after last night cementing her status as the No.1 star of the inaugural AFLW season.

Along with co-captaining Adelaide to the premiership, Phillips has also won five individual awards.

Last night she took out the league’s best and fairest award – the women’s equivalent of the Brownlow – to go with her best afield in Saturday’s grand final win, the AFLPA most valuable player award, vice-captaincy of the All-Australian team and goal of the year.

Phillips already has a stellar basketball career that features an Olympic silver medal, a world championship and two WNBA titles, but last night’s football honour was a far cry from when she started her AFLW pre-season with a torn quad.

“I’m just really grateful and in awe (of the talent in the league),” she said after the count in Melbourne.

“I never thought I’d be in this position… I’m incredibly humbled to win this.”

The Adelaide co-captain famously hails from Port Adelaide royalty, the daughter of Port and Collingwood AFL player Greg Phillips and the sister-in-law of four-time AFL premiership player Shaun Burgoyne.

Phillips will more than hold her own for bragging rights at future family functions.

She grew up living and breathing Australian Rules because of her Dad, but at 13 had to stop playing.

Then Adelaide recruited her and in November, at her second Crows training session, Phillips quickly learned the transition from basketball to AFLW would not be straightforward.

“I tore my quad – doing too many kicks,” she said.

“I didn’t know you could actually get those injuries, kicking a footy, I’ve never had it before.

“But I guess 31 years (old), you have to ease into things like that.

“Just the whole transition …trying to become a professional footballer, it’s such a different energy system, (and) AFL is the hardest game in the world to play.”

But Phillips polled three votes in round one and dominated the inaugural AFLW.

She polled votes in six of the seven rounds and had three best afields.

Phillips had an unbeatable three-vote lead before the final round and finished on 14, four up on Melbourne’s Karen Paxman and Ellie Blackburn from the Western Bulldogs.

The Crows star also was voted best afield in Saturday’s grand final win over Brisbane.

“To be a part of it, to win a flag, to win this medal, it blows my mind really,” she said.

Phillips, wife Tracy Gahan and their twin babies have also become one of the great stories of the first AFLW season and the Crows star paid emotional tribute to Gahan in her medal acceptance speech.

AFL 2017 Season, Adelaide Oval, Michael Errey, Adelaide Sports Photography, Adelaide Sports Photographer, Adelaide Crows, GWS

It was a big night for the premiers, with Crow Ebony Marinoff also named the league’s Rising Star. Photo: Michael Errey / InDaily

In the next few weeks, they will return to the United States and Phillips will resume playing with WNBA team the Dallas Wings.

Phillips is a two-time WNBA champion, as well as being part of the Australian Opals teams that won silver at the Beijing Olympics and the 2006 world title.

But she was also joint vice-captain of the Opals team that could only manage fifth last year at the Rio Olympics.

“Rio was really, really disappointing … winning gold medals is what we strive to do,” she said.

“I thought this was my big opportunity as vice-captain to help steer the girls to at least a medal.

“To finish fifth, it’s hard to ever get over – I don’t think I will. It definitely fuelled this (AFLW) season.

“Football came at a very good time, because it was a good time to take my focus off basketball and the disappointments of Rio.”

Phillips said she had not retired from the Opals, but is unsure what will come next because all her sporting energies had gone into the AFLW.

“We’ll see – I was really happy to not look past this season.

“I just wanted to enjoy it, because it was an opportunity I didn’t think I was going to have.

“We’ll sit down and address it in a couple of weeks.”
THE AFLW AWARDS

AFLW Best and Fairest: Phillips

Voting

14 – Phillips

10 – Karen Paxman (Melb) Ellie Blackburn (WB)

9 – Lara Filocamo (Fre)

8 – Kaitlyn Ashmore (Bris)

Rising Star: Ebony Marinoff (Adel)

Goal of the year: Phillips

Mark of the year: Darcy Vescio (Carl)

AFLW All-Australian team

B: Nicola Stevens (Coll) Courtney Cramey (Adel)

HB: Chelsea Randall (Adel) Brianna Davey (Carl) Karen Paxman (Melb)

C: Elise O’Dea (Melb) Daisy Pearce (Melb, capt) Emma Kearney (WB)

HF: Erin Phillips (Adel, v/capt) Sabrina Frederick-Traub (Bris) Ellie Blackburn (WB)

F: Darcy Vescio (Carl) Sarah Perkins (Adel)

R: Emma King (Coll) Karra Donnellan (Fre) Emily Bates (Bris)

I: Jess Dal Pos (GWS) Kate McCarthy (Bris) Ebony Marinoff (Adel) Tayla Harris (Bris) Mel Hickey (Melb) Sam Virgo (Brisbane)

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