The interviews are rolling in! This time, it’s Luke Phillips, a former player, former referee and video referee, now successful businessman.
Phillips played for the Canberra Raiders, the North Queensland Cowboys, the Manly Sea Eagles and Sydney Roosters.
He was an NRL referee and video referee and has now forged a successful career with his own pinball and video game supply business.
It was a good chat so sit back, relax, get that glass of wine and enjoy the read. Here are the questions:
1. What is your earliest rugby league memory?
My earliest memories of watching rugby league are of the Parramatta Eels.
Them winning Grand finals with such a great side full of stars. They were my team I supported until Wayne Pearce come on the scene.
My dad said to me one day, “look at how this bloke plays”. The way he ran the ball was so hard.
I bought a Balmain jumper with no.8 on it and used to think I was him playing with my mates up at Charnwood Oval in Canberra every day after school.
2. Your NRL debut came with the Canberra Raiders and it turned out to be your only game for them; what was the experience like for you and being able to play against the Western Reds?
Tim Sheens was the coach and he only told me the night before the game as a few of the Origin players couldn’t back up.
So I didn’t have much time to think about it. I couldn’t believe it.
I had only played a hand full of reserve grade games and had played 5 games for a pub side The Valley Statesman the year before.
So to be playing 1st grade six months from there was very surreal. It was so fast.
3. You made the move to North Queensland the year after; what prompted that move and how was it in Townsville as a Cowboy that season.
Tim Sheens had left Canberra to coach the cowboys and called me and asked if I wanted an opportunity to maybe start the year in 1st grade.
They needed a goal kicker and I had two international wingers in front of me at Canberra. So I thought, why not?
It may have been the only opportunity I got. Townsville was awesome.
They had a brand new facility and great warm weather which you don’t get in Canberra.
4. The big moment came in 2002 with the Sydney Roosters, a team that won the premiership; what was it like on grand final day and winning the big one?
Yeah, you can’t put into words the feeling you have when you win a GF. I’ve never felt anything like it before or since.
I guess it’s all the hard work and effort you have put in over the years and to get that reward.
It’s something that you dream of as a kid and when it happens the feeling you get you just can’t describe it.
Also to see how much it means to the fans is what made is so special.
I remember seeing how much it meant to the Roosters fans when we walked around the ground after the game.
Grown men with tears in their eyes wanting to shake my hand is a memory I will never forget.
5. A chronic shoulder injury forced you into premature retirement; how did it make you feel knowing you probably had some more footy left in you?
Yeah, it was really hard to retire. More so feeling you are letting your team mates down.
But I just knew that I didn’t have the drive to keep playing. I just started my business and was really focused on that.
And because my injury was so bad, I just realised that footy won’t be there forever and being in rehab.
Not feeling part of the team, I just decided to call it quits and concentrate on my business.
I could have played on for a few more years but made the decision and don’t regret it.
6. The retirement opened up doors in refereeing for you; what was it like being an NRL referee and what is your favourite memory as an NRL referee?
Phil Gould sort of got me into refereeing. He said it’s something I should try because I retired early.
I actually enjoyed it in the junior ranks.
But as soon as I got to NRL level, you have to change the way you referee which I found very hard.
So I moved into the video reffing side for a few years.
My favourite memory is video reffing the Souths v Bulldogs grand final. The atmosphere was unreal.
7. Tell us a bit about your work with your own pinball and video game supply business.
I started a business in my last few years at the Roosters.
This started with placing Arcade/Pinball machines in pubs and Clubs around Sydney. I’ve always loved Pinball since my early teens.
It’s recently turned into opening my own Arcade centres. I did this whilst working with the Titans last year.
I’ve opened one in Broadbeach and the second is underway and will be open in Australia Fair Southport hopefully soon.
8. If you could give advice to any rugby league player, what would it be and why?
Probably the best advice I could give is what my dad gave me as a kid.
Always play the game as if it’s your last. And never settle. Once you think you have made it, you will be found out.