24 November 1963 |
|Height||175 cm (5 ft 9 in)|
|Weight||83 kg (13 st 1 lb)|
|Position||Fullback, Centre, Five-eighth, Halfback|
|1991||North Sydney Bears||11||1||0||1||5|
|1993–94||St. George Dragons||29||15||0||0||60|
|1989||New South Wales||1||0||0||0||0|
|Source: Rugby League Project|
Phil Blake (born 24 November 1963 in London, England) is an Australian former rugby league footballer of the 1980s and 90s who represented New South Wales on one occasion. Originally a half back, Blake developed into a utility player and played first grade matches in all the backline positions, as well as at hooker and lock. Phil Blake is the younger brother of former Manly, Canberra and South Sydney player Michael Blake.
Blake made his debut for the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in Round 12 of the 1982 season, coming off the bench for the Sea Eagles in their 20-19 win over Eastern Suburbs at Brookvale Oval. Blake played 14 games in his rookie year, playing five-eighth, centre and halfback. He scored 9 tries in 1982, and was a try scorer for Manly in their 21-8 loss to defending premiers Parramatta in the 1982 Grand Final. Blake won the Dally M Rookie of the Year award and was considered unlucky to miss out on selection for the 1982 Kangaroo tour.
Phil Blake's good form continued in 1983, seemingly cementing his position as the clubs first choice halfback. He broke the Sea Eagles club record for the most tries scored in a season with 27, finishing the year as the top try scorer in the league. Blake's 27 tries were scored from just 23 games played and as of the end of the 2013 NRL season, this is still the Manly club record for most tries in a premiership season. Manly won through to the 1983 Grand Final, again against Parramatta, and for the second time in two seasons, were on the wrong end of the scoreline at the end losing 6-18.
Blake found the going tough under Manly coach Bob Fulton who had re-joined Manly as coach in 1983. After playing 21 of his 23 games at halfback in 1983, he played there only 10 times in 1984, spending most of his time at centre as Fulton tried to cover his defensive lapses. This also allowed Fulton to play others (such as halfback Des Hasler who had joined the club from Penrith) in their preferred positions. Despite this he was still one of the league's most prolific try scorers with his great speed over 30-40m, a distance where he was considered one of the fastest players in the game, and his general reading of the play giving him an advantage. After scoring 27 tries in 23 games in 1983, Blake scored only 11 tries from 23 games in 1984.
Phil Blake broke his arm during the opening round of the 1985 season against Penrith. He returned to the field in Round 9 against Canberra, but was again used in various backline positions and only scored 3 tries in 11 games.
During 1985/6 Phil Blake travelled to England and played for Warrington.
In the 1986 NSWRL season, Blake was again the league's top try scorer with 13, sharing the mark with Balmain's Great Britain international import Garry Schofield. However, after four seasons under Fulton, he was unwanted by Manly and following the season signed to play for the South Sydney Rabbitohs from 1987.
He returned to England to play for Wigan for the 1988/89 season. After returning from England, Blake, and Souths went from being minor premiers in 1989 to finishing with the wooden spoon in 1990, the biggest slide from grace in the competitions history.
After three seasons at Souths, Blake joined the North Sydney Bears for 1991, however despite the Bears reaching the finals for the first time since 1982, he only played eleven games for the club and moved again at the end of the year, joining the Canberra Raiders.
Blake moved again at the end of the 1992 season, joining the St. George Dragons. He came off the reserves bench for the Dragons in the 1993 Grand Final who lost their second Grand Final in two seasons to the Brisbane Broncos.
In 1995 he joined the new Auckland Warriors franchise, and was in their inaugural run-on side. He played three seasons for the club, his longest spell at one club since the Rabbitohs. Phil Blake, who played fullback in the Warrior's first game against the Broncos at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium before 29,220 fans, scored the new club's first ever try in the game's 21st minute after a dash down the left wing by Whetu Taewa. Blake, as always there in support, had an easy 10m run to the line. Despite this the Warriors went down narrowly to the two time premiership winners 25-22.
Blake trained with the Manly team at the start of the 1998 season before announcing his retirement. He finished his career having played 261 games, scoring 138 tries as well as kicking eight goals and fifteen field goals.
Blake was appointed the sprint coach at the South Sydney Rabbitohs for their return season in 2002. When Craig Coleman was fired as head coach at the beginning of the 2003 season, Blake was appointed the temporary head coach until he was replaced by Paul Langmack.
In 2008 Blake suffered from a series of potentially life-threatening blood clots and spent some time in hospital. He is currently defence and skills coach at the Western Force. In 2010 Blake underwent triple heart bypass surgery.
Despite narrowly missing out on a Kangaroos jersey in 1983, Blake never established himself at Representative level. In 1988, he played for City, and in 1989 he came off the bench in a State of Origin match for New South Wales.
- "SportingPulse Homepage for Australian Secondary Schools Rugby League". SportingPulse. Retrieved 10 October 2008.
- Light speed puts Clarke alongside the stars Sydney Morning Herald, 17 July 2002
- Waite spurns South Sydney overtures The Independent, 4 March 2003
- Piggins says club won't be lashing out on coach AAP, 5 March 2003
- Rabbitohs' chook raffle ABC, 5 March 2003
- Former Wires star Phil Blake in blood clot drama. Warrington Wolves Official Site, 26 Jun 2008
- Phil Blake's life-threatening shock Herald Sun, 13 July 2008
- Phil Blake is back in the saddle Manly Daily ,19 March 2010