Phillips making the most of his opportunities
A year is a long time in footy.
It is exactly one year ago to the day that Tyrone Phillips made his NRL debut for the Bulldogs after being drafted into the squad as cover for the injured Chase Stanley.
Fittingly, he will celebrate his one year anniversary with a replay of the bizarre 41-34 victory over the Raiders in Canberra this coming Sunday.
"I haven't really thought about that until you just brought it up. Hopefully I get selected to play," he told NRL.com after Sunday's win over the Roosters.
Phillips has come a long way since his debut with the 22-year-old outside back representing Fiji for the second time in his career, while he also earned a spot in the NSW Cup Team of the Year on the wing in 2015.
The Fijian international said the experience to play for his country was one that he will never forget and has helped him develop as a player on and off the field.
"It gave me a lot of confidence playing with other guys that do play first grade on a regular basis," he said.
"With the Fijian boys, I was happy and grateful to play alongside them and learn from them. It was an awesome experience."
Not so awesome was being chased down by Papua New Guinea fullback David Mead in the shadows of half-time; a moment that proved to be decisive in what turned out to be a thrilling contest.
Thankfully it only took a week for Phillips to redeem himself with the Bulldogs winger able to break away from a Justin Hunt cover tackle after getting in the clear to score his first career try against the Wests Tigers in Round 10.
"After I scored I did think back to that moment," he recalled. "But this time I made sure I held the ball in my right hand so I could fend him away with my left."
A noted try scorer in the Holden Cup and NSW Cup, Phillips showed off his attacking prowess with a hat-trick against the Roosters on Sunday afternoon in what was easily his best game in first grade.
Phillips thanked teammate Josh Jackson for supplying the final pass for two of his tries and admitted to NRL.com that he couldn't recall the last time he had touched down for a treble.
"I can't even remember to be honest," Phillips said.
"It's a good feeling to score three tries but I give all the credit to the guys in the middle who do all the hard work. They give us the space and us wingers, fullbacks and centres just put the icing on the cake."
The speedster could have easily scored six tries on Sunday afternoon after having one disallowed for a forward pass and another one turned down for grounding the ball on the sideline.
"I was unlucky with that. I got knocked out so I guess I have to practise a bit more to make sure I hold on and finish those opportunities," he said.
He wasn't as disappointed when talking about his other near miss.
Phillips watched on as teammate Josh Reynolds produced a moment of magic to break through the Roosters' defensive line before putting on two vicious right foot steps to score the try of the afternoon.
"It was individual brilliance. He's a skilful guy and he showed that today by stepping a few guys to get through there. He could have passed it to me but I guess he wanted to do it all himself and finish off his good work," he happily conceded.
"He brings a lot of energy which lifts the team. He brings energy for the whole 80 minutes and that just lifts everyone in the 17.
"He is the captain of our ship and basically just guides us around. Full credit to 'Grub' for all the hard work he puts in."
Phillips is set to retain his spot for at least for one more week but knows it will be tough to stay in the side once regular fullback Will Hopoate returns after missing the past two games on religious grounds.
"I'd like to keep my spot. You never know what's going to happen but I'm just taking it week by week. I'd love to stay in this team but if I go back to NSW Cup then I'll go out there and do my job for them."