Phil Davis reacts after last year's Grand Final loss. Picture: AFL Photos

In the third episode of Toe to Toe with Damo, former GWS co-captain Phil Davis speaks to's chief football reporter Damian Barrett

PHIL Davis is adamant he and his football club will not be defined by last year's Grand Final thrashing.

In a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with, Davis has opened up on the psychological damage he endured in the 89-point loss to Richmond in the Grand Final, as well as the days leading into and out of it.


"My social media … I turned it off, I deleted all my apps for a week, it was hard," said Davis, who had battled serious injury throughout the finals series and who was subjected to a rigorous fitness test on the MCG an hour before start time.

"Everyone tries to get to the last two, and as a kid you think about winning the Norm Smith or kicking the last goal, and to have your dream linked with people telling you that you've failed, that was challenging, even after having been around the game for a while."


Davis said he mentally crashed in a meeting with coach Leon Cameron, assistant coach Mark McVeigh and then-football operations boss Wayne Campbell five days after the Grand Final.

"It (public scrutiny) does affect you, it still gets in," Davis said.

"I remember my end of season review. I was still emotional, five days after, because it had been a big week, the build up to it and then what happened on the day. Myself, Leon, Mark McVeigh, in a room. I was upset, I didn't fully break down, but I was clearly emotional, and the chat had nothing to do with football.

"The year was a challenging year, an emotional roller-coaster from which we had to recover. We spoke about how I had to get my body back and then mentally re-charge.

"In that moment, and this is what is hard to get across to people, everything is heightened. In that Grand Final, everything is heightened. After it, everything is heightened. You add on to that the stresses of everything else, I was just exhausted. Add to that, failure, and that's what it was – we lost a Grand Final.

Phil Davis has had a lot to ponder since last year's Grand Final. Picture: AFL Photos

"Plus, me dealing with scrutiny than I'd ever had to deal with in my career. I think I handled it OK, but it is still hard, no matter what your skill set is."

After co-captaining the Giants, alongside Callan Ward, for the first eight seasons of their AFL life, Davis has stepped down from official leadership for 2020 and beyond to allow Stephen Coniglio the space to run the club his way.

Five months after his greatest sporting disappointment, Davis is preparing for another Grand Final tilt in 2020.

"The Grand Final we played will never define the Giants and it will never define me," Davis said.