Fab Phil's fantastic year for the Bombers
AUSSIE RULES: Phillip Eisel may be the most underrated member of Hervey Bay Bombers' minor premiership-winning seniors team.
The ruckman, who has spent four years at the club, finally stepped up to the senior team at the start of the season.
His promotion came when coach Darren Hunter tapped him on the shoulder during the off-season AFL 9s competition at Norm McLean Oval. Hunter wanted a back-up ruckman, and Eisel was the man to do it - but with one small adjustment.
Eisel, a painter based at Burrum Heads, shed 17kg and quickly stamped his authority as arguably the Bombers' most important men in the middle.
He made the starting guernsey his own, and is one of just two Bombers to have played all 19 games this season.
"I won a few reserve grade titles but I'm getting a bit old now and hadn't won a seniors title,” Eisel said of his motivation to step up to the top side.
"It's a good competition, it's been pretty tough. It's a bit better than the past few years.
"I swap with Rohan (Mortimer) in the ruck. I was playing full forward in reserves so it's been a bit of a change.”
When the Chronicle asked Hunter about some of the side's underrated players this year, Eisel was the first man who came to mind.
"Fab Phil straight-up, Fabulous Philly, he's smashed it this year,” Hunter said.
"He's always been the class clown, the champion bloke to have a beer with, play twos and have a bit of fun. All of a sudden, when they were doing AFL 9s in December, I told him I needed a back-up ruckman because I knew Rohan was coming back. During the season he's taken that number one spot, and Rohan's slipped into that back line with ease.
"He's had a cracking year. He's 38, he's a late bloomer.”
Eisel played Aussie rules as a junior at the Gold Coast before he gave it up at 15 years of age. It started a 20-year absence, which ended when he strolled into training at Norm McLean Oval in 2015.
He will be in the thick of the action again when the Bombers go into battle against Bay Power. It's arguably the most important Battle of the Bay in recent years, and with two sudden death finals in the past two seasons neither side will take it for granted.
"We've had a great season, and I'd say we're the fittest team in the competition,” Eisel said. "When we play a full game we go pretty well - last week we probably only played three quarters.”