Inaugural Bomber Cat Phillips has announced that she will hang up the boots after 54 AFLW games. 

After being placed on the inactive list for the 2023 season due to the arrival of her first child, Cooper, Phillips has decided to retire, effective immediately. 

Phillips said it was a privilege to be involved in establishing the league and Essendon’s AFLW program. 


“It has been an incredible privilege being involved in the AFLW from the start and having the opportunity to contribute to three different clubs in their inaugural seasons. I’ve learnt so much and have had the honour of playing with and against many women who will be remembered as pioneers of the AFLW,” Phillips said. 

“On top of my playing experience, serving as a delegate and a board member for the AFLPA has been extremely fulfilling, particularly contributing to the historic joint CBA and a step change in women’s football. It feels like the right time now to step away from playing AFLW and to instead be a fan as young girls around the country keep lifting women’s sport to new heights. 

“I will always be thankful for the wonderful people who believed in me and supported me in my AFLW journey, most recently the coaches, players, staff, and medical team at Essendon. 

“I look forward to watching the Bombers continue to fly in the upcoming season and will be proudly cheering on come round one!” 

Phillips arrived at the NEC Hangar ahead of Season Seven, playing all ten games and finishing sixth in the club’s best and fairest. 

Throughout her season in the red and black, Phillips was influential on the wing, showcasing her speed and two-way running.

Before joining the Bombers, Phillips played 20 games for Melbourne before switching to St Kilda, where she was named its inaugural Captain and ran out for 24 games. 

A dual-sport athlete, Phillips represented Australia at Ultimate Frisbee and continued her career throughout her time at AFLW level. 

Phillips has also pioneered for women’s football, with the 32-year-old heavily involved in the AFLPA as current board member. Phillips has been a key driver in progressing equality for AFLW athletes and was influential in the historic joint CBA signed by AFL and AFLW players last year. 

Essendon AFLW Head Coach Natalie Wood thanked Phillips for her impact on Essendon. 

“We were excited when Cat signed with us in our inaugural year, and she has been an integral leader for the industry through her various roles. As an experienced athlete and footballer, Cat’s level of professionalism and dedication was pivotal in helping us lay our foundations at EFC,” Wood said.

“Cat was driven to continually improve her own craft and lead others to do the same. Her maturity and grounded nature were important in setting up many of our younger players for success for years to come. 

“Cat had a positive impact on and off the field, and we are grateful for her contributions. She’ll forever be known as an inaugural Bomber and a part of us and our history. We wish Cat, Pete and Cooper all the best. They will always be a part of Essendon.”