PHIL Davis was a whisker away from retirement last year, but a new coach and a new mindset has the Greater Western Sydney veteran eager for a 15th season in the AFL.
Although Davis believes he can still play good football at the highest level, the 32-year-old has come to terms with the fact he might be just as useful to the Giants away from the two hours on the field every weekend.
Davis has had a wretched time with injury since midway through 2020, culminating in back-to-back hamstring surgeries last year – one on each leg – that reduced him to just five games.
It was enough to almost break the incredibly consistent key defender.
Although he had pushed back money from his existing contract to 2023, there was a genuine chance Davis might hang up the boots after last season’s injury nightmare.
“That night after I hurt myself (against Port Adelaide in round 17) I’d definitely retired,” Davis told AFL.com.au.
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“The consistent feedback I got from people around me was to give it some time.
“Even after giving it some time though, I was still on the fence.
“You can’t come in half prepared, half invested for a pre-season, you can’t.
“I had to find out if I was (mentally) there … that last bit took a bit of time.
“I felt in terrific form early in the season, did my hammy, came back in terrific form and then did it again. How many times can I get up, fall over and pick myself up again?
“I needed control of that emotion.”
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As the Giants’ season petered out, the appointment of Adam Kingsley as the new senior coach played a pivotal role in Davis deciding to go around again.
He said Kingsley outlined the role he could play, and a philosophical Davis was all aboard.
“I was pretty content after 14 years to hang up the boots,” he said.
“I still loved the club and wanted to help that transition … he helped crystalise that and brought in a great coaching group and a great environment.
“He helped me get over the hump to go around again.”
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And after a slow start to the pre-season on the back of his most recent hamstring tendon surgery, Davis is now well in the selection frame to play early in the season after a strong past month, though suffered what appeared to be a rolled ankle on Friday after landing awkwardly at training.
However, he’s more than content to play a support role if that’s what’s called for.
“I’m very much ready to play some good footy,” he said.
“It’s different to previous years though … realistically this year hopefully we get games into Leek (Aleer), Jack Buckley, Cam Fleeton … it’s a more holistic view from where I am at the moment and I’m more cognisant of that.
“Playing a 32-year-old all the time instead of a 19-year-old with where we’re at, there’s got to be a question over that.
“There’s nothing like playing AFL footy, but realistically it’s more about how much knowledge can I pass on as quick as possible?”