Criticisms for clubs on draft night are – for better or worse – always going to be around.
With North Melbourne essentially having Pick 4 (given Jamarra Ugle-Hagan was always going to be a Dog at Pick 1), most mock drafts had them tossing up between tall forward Logan McDonald, tall back Denver Grainger-Barrass, and midfielder Elijah Hollands.
With Ben Brown departing to Melbourne, Nick Larkey needed help and with Robbie Tarrant and the development of Ben McKay, DGB seemed unlikely and Hollands was a really highly rated young midfielder. But that glaring hole at centre half forward seemed too big and McDonald had played senior WAFL football.
However, they called out Will Phillips, a young Oakleigh Chargers midfielder who was presented with former star Brent Harvey’s No.29 jumper in a move that surprised the footy masses.
With his debut done and dusted, with a perhaps modest nine touches, the comparisons to Logan McDonald have already come through and the poor kid hasn’t really had an opportunity yet.
McDonald has been a star already and will be for a decade – I had him as Pick 2 – and in his three games, he’s averaging ten touches and 5.33 marks, while kicking 7.4 total and alongside Lance Franklin, is a scary proposition for any key defenders.
But let’s get back to Phillips.
North clearly think enough of the young man to slot him in at Pick 3 but it’s the media that really needs to calm down. He could come out and have six touches or 42 next week and it won’t stop. Criticism such as bagging him for the Kangaroos picking him up is both ridiculous and insulting given that kids don’t choose where they go for the most part and, again, his career has barely started!
Former Port Adelaide 300-gamer Kane Cornes on ‘This Round So Far’ proclaimed “he’d better be good” to justify the selection and that was before the worse comment coming on Channel Nine’s Footy Classified between Cornes and fellow host Craig Hutchinson:
Hutchinson: “With the caveat that young Phillips might yet be Chris Judd, have they [North Melbourne] got chest pain yet by not taking McDonald at Pick 3?”
Cornes: “Well he’d want to be Chris Judd, he would want to win a couple of Brownlow Medals, because you’ve got a key forward there who looks like a young Jonathan Brown to me.”
A couple of Brownlow Medals? Sure, anyone can say silly things without repercussions but for the love of all that is holy, only LeBron James has gone into his sport with this much expectation on him!
Let the kid play footy. While comparisons are always going to be present, there’s not a lot that Phillips can do that will make the majority happy, but I hope his career is long and fruitful and he contributes.
His draft analysis reads: “Phillips is a midfield bull who extracts the ball at will, is sharp by hand and can also push forward and hit the scoreboard. He’s tough, consistent and ready to play, and has been closely monitored throughout this season by clubs with early selections.”
Ready to play he sure is and has outstanding leadership abilities, he’s worked his butt off over the off season, and all hopes he goes well for 200-plus games.