By PETER ARGENT
Third generation SANFL talent Mattaes Phillipou has been acknowledged for his performance in St Kilda’s win against North Melbourne, earning the AFL’s Round 8 Rising Star nomination.
The athletic left-footer finished with 13 possessions, six marks and four tackles in the Saints’ five-goal win against the Kangaroos at Marvel Stadium.
The first South Australian selected in the 2022 AFL Draft added to his highlight real with a serious candidate for Mark of the Year in the final term.
Phillipou has played all eight AFL games in his rookie season, playing a hybrid forward role along with spending short stints through the middle.
He debuted in Round One this year against Fremantle, gathering 16 disposals and a goal before going on to be a consistent contributor in the Saints’ impressive six-win start to the season across the opening two months in the 2023 campaign.
“He was driven, but equally he was a good team mate and very team-oriented,” Phillipou’s coach at Woodville West Torrens’ SANFL Under 18s, Shane Reardon, said.
“Matteas was open to learn and took feedback well.
“I recalled giving him feedback about tackling during the 2021 season and the next week he went out and had 10 tackles.
“Across the two years I coached him, his big weapon was his running power.
“From 21 to ’22, Mattaes really worked hard on his ball-handling skills and his ability to win it in traffic.
“His skill set with ball in hand became elite, because of the amount of work he did to improve it.
“He had come from a strong basketball background and last year he put more focus on his football.
“His second last game for us against West Adelaide last year, he took the team on his shoulders and carried us to our first victory for the season.
“I was always confident that Mattaes could make it, but that Torrens University Under 18s match confirmed his ability.
“In that contest, Mattaes won 33 touches, gained six clearances, kicked three goals (and two behinds), had six inside 50s, took 10 marks and had 10 score involvements.
“He was so invested in the team’s win and happy for the boys to get up that day.”
Along with his state commitments, Phillipou played eight games in the Torrens University SANFL U18s and three games at Reserves level in 2022.
Younger Brother Jevan Phillipou is currently in the Torrens University SANFL Under 16s program at Woodville-West Torrens.
Mattaes, who turned 18 after he was drafted on December 27 last year, played his juniors with PHOS Camden.
Woodville-West Torrens U18 coach Shane Reardon
''His (Phillipou's) skill set with ball in hand became elite, because of the amount of work he did to improve it.''
Fellow Phantoms junior talents currently in the AFL include Brayden Maynard (Collingwood), Will Day (Hawthorn) and Ryan Burton (Port Adelaide).
His father, Sam Phillipou, played 106 games and kicked 180 goals with Woodville-West Torrens.
He also played a trio of AFL games with the Footscray Bulldogs in 1995 and a further 44 games with Port Adelaide Magpies.
Mattaes’ Uncle Michael Phillipou played 61 games for the Eagles, kicking 67 goals between 1995 and 2000.
Grandfather, Peter Phillipou, played 272 games with the West Torrens Eagles (SANFL) along with 60 matches with Eastlake in the Canberra competition across three seasons.
He won the 1974 Mulrooney Medal as the competition’s best and fairest, and led Eastlake to a premiership two years later.