In this six-part series, The Inner Sanctum in conjunction with the GIANTS, chat with the club’s inaugural players. The men share everything from their first experience at the GIANTS, all the way through to what they hope is in store for the club’s future.
Phil Davis spoke to The Inner Sanctum about the beginning of the journey at the GIANTS and what it was like to rather be one of the players brought to the club to lead the players drafted in.
Phil Davis was announced as the first player to make the move across to the GIANTS, all the way back in August 2011. At the time, he was in his third year at the Adelaide Crows, where he made 18 appearances for the club.
The defender had played the bulk of his games in the latter stages of his time with the Crows, causing much disappointment at the club when Davis announced his move.
“I think it's always nice when someone's disappointed that you've moved on, I think that's always a compliment,” Davis told The Inner Sanctum.
“They were entitled to be disappointed and I’m sure if I was in their position, I’d be disappointed, someone that was pick 10 and given three years had just moved on.”
The Crows made it publicly known that they wished Davis had stayed at the club, something that he had to block out to ensure the transition to the GIANTS was as smooth as possible.
“It didn't play any doubt in my mind about whether I made the right decision or not. Once I made that decision I knew that there would be a fair bit of outside noise about people questioning my decision.”
The decision was almost a no-brainer for Davis, who saw opportunity to be an integral part of building the club and directing it to where they hoped to be in seasons to come.
“I was extremely excited and humbled to be given the opportunity to start at a new club, very rarely does someone have the opportunity to start something new.”
Arriving at the GIANTS, Davis was announced as co-captain alongside Luke Power and Callan Ward for the club's inaugural season. He and Ward remained co-captains when Power retired in 2012, and together led the GIANTS until the end of 2019.
Although having the support of his co-captain and the club’s personnel, his role in the leadership position came with many challenges.
“There were some challenges along the way but my ability to lead and other factors definitely improved through the experience,” he said.
“I'll be the first to admit that at the start I definitely didn't have the skill set to be the best version of myself, but there's no doubt that those experiences definitely helped.
“There were a fair lot of challenges thrown my way, and resilience was definitely built, not only about myself, but the growth that definitely led to a pretty strong foundation of the club.”
One of these challenges, as noted by many of the foundation GIANTS players, were the original training facilities the club used.
Davis was one of the experienced players, although with little experience himself in the AFL. He had to motivate the 18-year-olds coming into their first AFL club, and lead them into a proactive pre-season and instil the right mind set.
He did this though with a smile on his face, while having fun along the whole journey. Teaching the younger kids entering the club particularly was something Davis has enjoyed throughout his entire time at the club.
“There’s no doubt that we probably weren't as organised as we'd like in terms of facilities; we were training on baseball diamonds, we were jumping between ovals and temporary change rooms and all these other all these other facets that were going on that were quite funny.
“But you’re always looking to try to educate the young players and make sure that they’re upskilling themselves as quickly as possible.”
For Davis, being a foundation GIANTS player is special. The opportunity he has had to grow the football club, teach the incoming players and create a proud club history is something he will always hold close.
“It’s definitely something I'm very proud of and it's been terrific journey for me to see the club grow and be able to play a small part in that.
“I must admit, I've been very fortunate to have Cal there the whole way. We were both 21 and doing this whole new thing together.
“And then we went to the draft and picked up some of players like Stephen Coniglio, Adam Kennedy and Matt Buntine and have been along the journey, I think it's definitely a great bond that we've had and something that I look back on very fondly.
“Over the years, we were able to teach them, along with the new players coming in what it means to be a GIANT and to be a part of the football club.”
The relationships he’s formed along the way is what has kept Davis at the club and it's why forever, the GIANTS will remain special to him.
“I’ve always had a very strong bond with the people at the club, my whole 20s were spent at the GIANTS and that's been pretty special.
“Of course, I think there have been a lot of challenges along the way but once you buy into the GIANTS, you want to stay and that’s why I have over the last 10 years.
“The GIANTS have become a very important facet of my life.”
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