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New man of Steele: Young Pie topples time trial champ

Ben Collins  November 30, 2015 1:00 PM

Pies recruit wins time trial Draftee Tom Phillips wins the time trial ahead of perennial past-winner Steele Sidebottom
Steele Sidebottom congratulates Tom Phillips after the youngster's time trial win. Picture: Collingwood Media

Steele Sidebottom congratulates Tom Phillips after the youngster's time trial win. Picture: Collingwood Media

COLLINGWOOD'S time-trial king Steele Sidebottom has been dethroned – by a first-year draftee.

In a hotly-contested 2km run around Olympic Park on Monday morning, the 2010 premiership star was trumped by promising 19-year-old Tom Phillips.

In recent years such pre-season runs have been the domain of hardened 24-year-old Sidebottom, a renowned endurance runner.

But in a surprise result, this time the honours went to newcomer Phillips, the Pies' second pick at No.58 overall in last week's NAB AFL Draft, whose performance was an impressive sign of intent.

After trailing Phillips over the line, Sidebottom congratulated the youngster in a warm embrace.

Among the others to run strongly were experienced midfielder Levi Greenwood and rookie draftee Josh Smith.

Phillips has come a long way since being overlooked in last year's draft.

The pacy left-footed midfielder/forward capitalised on being given another opportunity at TAC Cup level as a 19-year-old this season.

In 16 games, the Oakleigh Chargers star averaged 28 disposals (including 19 kicks) and four tackles, and tallied 23.10, including eight multiple-goal efforts.

In a mid-season purple patch Phillips gathered at least 30 disposals and 20 kicks in six consecutive games.

This included his standout performance of the season in which he amassed 44 possessions (32 kicks and 12 handballs), nine tackles and 2.2 in a losing side against Calder Cannons.

In the process, the 186cm runner won a second successive TAC Cup premiership and represented Vic Metro in the NAB AFL U18 Championships.

Phillips was one of the best afield this year's TAC Cup Grand Final triumph over Eastern Ranges, collecting 14 kicks and four handballs and kicking an equal team-high two goals. It was the only time he had fewer than 20 touches.

A good decision-maker and a quality kick, Phillips' highlights reel features plenty of well-weighted footpasses and on-the-run conversions. Allied with his running power and breakaway speed, he seems a likely prospect.

After he was drafted, Phillips revealed his enthusiasm to make the most of his opportunity at Collingwood.

"I'm a leader on the field," he told the club website.

"I love to chat and communicate and that seems to really bring my fierce competitiveness out.

"I'm a pretty versatile player and I’m able to play in all positions. I think that's the skill set that I have and that I can keep developing at Collingwood."

Tom Phillips leads Steele Sidebottom in the 2km run. Picture: Collingwood Media