'He makes sure the number seven doesn't get dirty'
SOME tongue-in-cheek barbs from coach to player this week have underlined the relaxed feeling around the Ipswich Jets ahead of their elimination final against the Townsville Blackhawks tomorrow.
With every match from here on out potentially Dane Phillips' last, the soon-to-be-retired Jets halfback might expect some kind words levelled in his direction.
And they did come from Ben Walker, eventually.
But not before the coach took a slight dig at his star playmaker at training yesterday.
"We don't expect anything from Dane, and we haven't gotten anything from Dane between rounds one and 24,” Walker said with a grin.
"He just wears the number seven and makes sure it doesn't get dirty, which he's done a good job of this year.”
The comments came after Phillips recorded season highs in kick metres and tackles against Norths to help ensure the Jets returned to finals contention for the first time since 2015.
Phillips has been a key contributor this season. His coach know that better than most.
Walker also knows his level rises "when the semis roll around”.
"When it gets to the semis, we know he's the player that will carry us a long way as he has done before,” Walker said.
"There's no better player in a big match than Dane. He's been enormous whenever we've played a final. He was arguably the best player in the grand final in '15.
"We acknowledge week-to-week he doesn't participate too much, but when the semis roll around he's on his game.”