South Australian draft gun Mattaes Phillipou makes surprising Melbourne call: ‘I want the spotlight’

The AFL draft is about to begin and young gun Mattaes Phillipou has put the competition on notice by admitting he prefers a move to a big club.

Speaking exclusively to 7NEWS reporter Andrew Hayes, 18-year-old Phillipou said he likes big crowds and would love to play regularly at the MCG, despite being from South Australia.

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“I’ve always wanted to be in the spotlight and play in front of big crowds,” Phillipou said.

“I want to get all the big games and all the Melbourne teams get that.

“It will awesome playing at the ‘G (MCG) every two weeks or at the Etihad.”

Phillipou, a brilliant 191cm midfielder who models his game on Western Bulldogs star Marcus Bontempelli, is widely considered a genuine top-five draft pick after an impressive 2022 season at various SANFL levels and the national championships.

Mattaes Phillipou of South Australia kicks for goal during the U18 AFL Boys Championship match between SA v Vic Country. Credit: Kelly Barnes/Getty Images

Essendon, who hold pick four in the draft, have shown interest in selecting Phillipou and the feeling seems to be mutual.

“It’s awesome, Essendon have been excellent to talk to, just like the other clubs,” Phillipou said.

“It’s definitely exciting when a club is interested in me.”

Former AFL recruiter Matt Rendell believes Phillipou could end up at St Kilda.

“St Kilda will take whoever Essendon don’t,” Rendell said on SEN SA The Run Home.

“That’s (Elijah) Tsatas or Phillipou, so Phillipou could slide down to that pick 10.”

Mattaes Phillipou celebrates a goal for South Australia during the Under-18 Championships at Thebarton Oval in June. Credit: Getty Images

The Woodville-West Torrens Eagles prospect was destined for the AFL after his father Sam played over 100 games for Woodville-West Torrens and his grandfather Peter also notched up 272 games for the Eagles.

Phillipou has enjoyed a successful junior footy career which included representing South Australia at the National Championships and winning a SANFL U18 premiership with the Eagles in 2021.

Phillipou, who can also play as a forward, announced himself to AFL recruiters last season when he kicked 25 goals and averaged 23.3 disposals as a bottom-ager.

This season the young gun spent time playing reserve grade and played eight under-18 games, finding the ball at will and pushing forward to get on the scoreboard, averaging 28 disposals, 6.6 marks, 5.1 tackles, 4.3 clearances and 1.5 goals per game.

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