AFLW star Erin Phillips has finally decided on her future, leaving the Adelaide Crows to play with cross-town rivals Port Adelaide.
The decision gives Port Adelaide a marquee player ahead of their first season in the league later this year, and sets up a highly-anticipated first AFLW Showdown between the rival Adelaide clubs.
Phillips, who turns 37 next month, is widely regarded as the best player to compete in the AFLW in its six-year history.
She came to the Crows for the league’s inaugural season in 2017 after switching from basketball where she won two WNBA titles, a FIBA Women’s World basketball gold medal and played at two Olympic Games, winning a silver medal.
She has won two AFLW best and fairest and three premierships with the Crows — the latest last month when Adelaide beat Brisbane in this year’s grand final.
As soon as Port Adelaide was confirmed as an expansion team, speculation began about Phillips returning to the club where her father Greg was captain and won eight SANFL premierships, playing 343 games between 1976 and 1993.
After this year’s grand final, Phillips told ABC she did not know what she was doing for next season, and that the decider could be her last game of football.
But the Crows announced in a statement on Wednesday morning that Phillips was leaving and would “explore her options” at an expansion club — although they did not name Port Adelaide.
“As a footballer, Erin has been the best player of her generation but equally she is a great person,” Crows AFLW head of football Phil Harper said.
“Her contribution to our club, as well as women’s football here in South Australia and nationally, has been significant and she has helped create a legacy from which many young girls and women will benefit.
“We wish Erin, her wife Tracy and their family all the best for the future and thank them for helping make our Club a better place.”
Port Adelaide then confirmed its recruiting coup.
Phillips was quoted in Port Adelaide’s statement saying it had been “an absolute privilege” to have been a part of the AFLW’s most successful club.
“I obviously have great memories and friendships from my time at Adelaide, which I will cherish forever,” Phillips said.
“It was always my dream to be able to represent the club and add to its incredible history, and I am beyond thrilled to finally get that chance and play a role in building this team from the ground up.
“I am really excited by the plans for the Alberton precinct redevelopment and the opportunity to work with some incredible women including Lauren Arnell, Juliet Haslam, Rachael Sporn and Naomi Maidment to establish a successful female football program that will only grow in years to come.”
Source: AFL NEWS ABC