Ethan Phillips with the 2022 Fothergill-Round-Mitchell Medal during the VFL and VFLW Awards Night at Crown on September 12, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

HAWTHORN has offered Ethan Phillips a spot on the club's rookie list ahead of the pre-season supplemental selection period (SSP) deadline, re-establishing a long-standing VFL streak.  

The Hawks will complete the signing on Monday, but the club informed the key defender on Saturday of its decision following James Blanck's season-ending knee injury in Thursday's intraclub at Waverley Park. 

Phillips joined Box Hill at the start of the pre-season hoping a fresh start would lead to an AFL opportunity, after starring for Port Melbourne across the past few years. 

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The 24-year-old has trained with Sam Mitchell's squad across most of the pre-season but the Hawks didn't have a list spot open this summer, preventing anyone from joining the AFL program full-time. 

With Blanck rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament on Thursday, Hawthorn has spent the past couple of days considering its options, before settling on Phillips who also played in the intraclub.

Ethan Phillips marks the ball during the round six VFL match between Port Melbourne and Greater Western Sydney at ETU Stadium on April 30, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Phillips emerged as one of the premier state league backmen in 2022, putting himself on the radar of AFL clubs in a season where he won the prestigious Fothergill-Round-Mitchell Medal after standing out as the VFL's best intercept defender. 

The past 15 winners had earned a spot at AFL level when Phillips won the VFL's best young player award, including Bayley Fritsch, Kane Lambert, Michael Barlow, Luke Ryan and Nic Newman, but Phillips was overlooked in 2022 and again in 2023. 

But after changing clubs – and after Sam Clohesy was drafted by Gold Coast last November – that streak is alive again and will stand at 17 when the AFL completes the paperwork on SSP deadline day. 

Adelaide considered Phillips last pre-season after Fischer McAsey retired but opted for Irishman Mark Keane instead

Now Phillips, technically, becomes the latest Box Hill player to graduate to Hawthorn.