Matt Philip, has evolved from a grinding, grafting “labourer in the boiler house”-type lock into a “true afficionado” of the lineout and a highly productive ball-carrying threat.
A highly decorated schools and aged representative, Philip began played his first senior rugby with the University of Sydney. Philips good consistent form in the Shute Shield earned him a call up to the Sydney Stars ahead of the inaugural National Rugby Championship in 2014. Two years later an injury crisis at the Western Force saw Philip drafted to Perth during the June Test window where he immediately impressed interim coach Dave Wessels. Philip duly earned a spot in the Force touring party to South Africa where he came off the bench to debut against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein. That same season Philip accepted an approach from the Southland Stags to play in New Zealand’s NPC. "At the start of the year I was looking at ways to improve my rugby and I had heard [the New Zealand competition] would be a good place to develop myself technically and mature me a bit more as a player moving away from home.”
The benefits of that NPC experience came home to roost late in 2017 when, following injuries to Roy Arnold, Izack Rodda and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, the uncapped duo of Philip and Blake Enever bolted onto the Wallabies Spring Tour. Philip made his Test debut in the opening international of that tour, against Japan in Yokohama however it was not until the COVID-interrupted 2020 season that he emerged as a genuine international. With Rodda and Arnold again out of the mix, Philip stepped up to run the Wallaby lineout and became the most effective ball-carrier in the back five forwards. According to Nick Bishop’s analysis, Philip had the best ratio at either winning collisions or distributing out of them. With ball in hand Philip delivered an impressive balance between presenting a ball-carrying threat, and passing or offloading the ball after the defence has been committed to stopping the run. In doing so, Philip finished the year as a far more complete footballer.
He ventured to France in 2020/21 to play for Pau in the Top 14 but returned to Australia in 2022 and reclaimed a spot in the Wallaby squad before a ruptured ACL, suffered during a lineout drill ahead of the Spring Tour, prematurely ended his season.
2012 Represented Australian Schools against Tonga, Fiji, Samoa and New Zealand Schools.
2013 Selected in the Australian U20s squad to the sixth-annual IRB Junior World Championship tournament in France but missed the tournament due to injury.
2014 Selected in the Australian U20s squad to the seventh-annual IRB Junior World Championship tournament in New Zealand.
2017 Philip won his first Test cap at lock when came off the bench in the 63rd minute to replace Adam Coleman in the the 63-30 victory over Japan in Yokohama. He also won caps as a reserve against Wales and England.
2020 He started at lock in all six of the COVID-reduced international season. Philip played the first three Tests alongside Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and the final three partnered with Rob Simmons.
2022 Philip earned seven caps, six in the run-on XV, from the year’s first eight internationals before a sternum injury ruled him out of the second Bledisloe and a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament at Spring Tour training ended his year.