Phil Blake

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For other people named Philip Blake, see Philip Blake (disambiguation).
Phil Blake
Personal information
Born (1963-11-24) 24 November 1963 (age 53)
London, England
Playing information
Height 175 cm (5 ft 9 in)
Weight 83 kg (13 st 1 lb)
Position Fullback, Centre, Five-eighth, Halfback
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1982–86 Manly-Warringah 93 63 0 7 250
1985–89 Warrington
1987–90 South Sydney Rabbitohs 75 37 8 6 170
1989 Wigan 11 7 17 0 62
1991 North Sydney Bears 11 1 0 1 5
1992 Canberra Raiders 16 5 0 1 21
1993–94 St. George Dragons 29 15 0 0 60
1995–97 Auckland Warriors 37 17 0 0 68
Total 272 145 25 15 636
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1988 NSW City 1 0 0 0 0
1989 New South Wales 1 0 0 0 0
Coaching information
Years Team Gms W D L W%
2012 Western Force 8 1 0 7 13
Source: [1]

Phil Blake (born 24 November 1963) is an Australian former rugby league footballer of the 1980s, and 90s, and is now a professional rugby union coach.

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. He represented New South Wales on one occasion.

Blake has held coaching positions with the Wallabies, Western Force, Manly RUFC and Leicester Tigers.

Family and early years[edit]

Blake was born in London, England, but moved to Sydney with his family at an early age. While attending Christian Brothers College in Manly, Blake played for the Australian Schoolboys team in 1981.[2] Phil Blake is the younger brother of former Manly, Canberra and South Sydney player Michael Blake.

Playing career[edit]


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 club's 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 2015 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, he played Centre, i.e. number 4, (replaced by Interchange/Substitute Mark Forster) in Warrington's 8-34 defeat by Wigan in the 1985 Lancashire County Cup Final during the 1985–86 season at Knowsley Road, St. Helens, on Sunday 13 October 1985,[3]

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 and despite having that statistic, for the second time in a Kangaroo Tour year, he was overlooked for selection on the 1986 Kangaroo tour. 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.


Blake joined Rabbitohs and went on to play four seasons for the club. Returning to his schoolboy position of five-eighth, Blake was instrumental in Souths winning the minor premiership in 1989.

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.

Representative career[edit]

Despite narrowly missing out on a Kangaroos jersey in 1982 and again in 1986, 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, but that was the extent of his representative career.


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.

Coaching career[edit]

Rugby league[edit]

Blake was appointed the sprint coach at the South Sydney Rabbitohs for their return season in 2002.[4] 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.[5][6][7]

Rugby union[edit]

In 2006 Blake began his rugby union coaching career as assistant coach of the Southern Districts first grade side. He joined Manly as head coach a year later.[8] Blake suffered from a series of potentially life-threatening blood clots in 2008 and spent some time in hospital.[9][10] In 2010, he underwent triple heart bypass surgery.[11]

After taking Manly into the semi-finals in 2010, Blake was appointed as defence and skills coach to the Wallabies under head coach Robbie Deans.[8] He joined the Western Force as defence and skills coach for the 2011 season.[8] When Richard Graham was stood down as head coach of the Force during the 2012 season, Blake became the interim head coach before Michael Foley was appointed for the 2013 season.[12][13]

Blake returned to Manly as head coach in 2013.[14] In 2014, he was appointed as head coach of the North Harbour Rays for the inaugural National Rugby Championship season.[15] However, on 2 June 2014 it was announced that he had been appointed as defence coach for Leicester Tigers in the English Premiership.[16][17] Blake incurred a six-month ban from rugby for breaching RFU betting rules after placing eight separate bets on two Tigers games while he was the defence coach at the club.[18]


  1. ^ Rugby League Project
  2. ^ "SportingPulse Homepage for Australian Secondary Schools Rugby League". SportingPulse. Retrieved 10 October 2008. 
  3. ^ "1985–1986 Lancashire Cup Final". 31 December 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  4. ^ Light speed puts Clarke alongside the stars Sydney Morning Herald, 17 July 2002
  5. ^ Waite spurns South Sydney overtures The Independent, 4 March 2003
  6. ^ Piggins says club won't be lashing out on coach AAP, 5 March 2003
  7. ^ Rabbitohs' chook raffle ABC, 5 March 2003
  8. ^ a b c "Blake a new Wallabies coach". Sportal. 20 October 2010. Archived from the original on 5 May 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  9. ^ "Former Wires star Phil Blake in blood clot drama.". Warrington Wolves Official Site. 26 Jun 2008. Archived from the original on 29 August 2008. Retrieved 29 August 2008. 
  10. ^ "Phil Blake's life-threatening shock". Herald Sun. News. 13 July 2008. Retrieved 29 August 2008. [dead link]
  11. ^ Avedissian, Jason (19 March 2010). "Phil Blake is back in the saddle". Manly Daily. Archived from the original on 2 March 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  12. ^ Harris, Bret (25 April 2012). "I'll take Western Force to finals, says Phil Blake". The Australian. News. Archived from the original on 5 May 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  13. ^ "Foley signs as Force coach". Sport 24. 1 August 2012. Archived from the original on 5 May 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  14. ^ Geddes, John (24 April 2013). "Former Wallabies assistant coach Phil Blake back in charge of the Manly Marlins". Manly Daily. News. Archived from the original on 5 May 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  15. ^ Guinness, Rupert (2 May 2014). "Phil Blake named first National Rugby Championship coach". The Daily Advertiser. Wagga Wagga: Fairfax. Archived from the original on 4 May 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  16. ^ Pandaram, Jamie. "Manly and North Harbour Rays coach Phil Blake poached by English club Leicester Tigers". Courier Mail. Retrieved 2 June 2014. 
  17. ^ Sherrard, Gary. "Tigers to add Blake to coaching team". Retrieved 2 June 2014. 
  18. ^ "Phil Blake: Former Leicester Tigers coach banned for six months". BBC. 25 June 2015. Archived from the original on 26 June 2015. Retrieved 25 June 2015. 

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