Highlights: North v Bulldogs7:52
Highlights: North v Bulldogs
LUKE Beveridge doesn’t often use milestone talk as motivation.
It can be a trap, the coach said, when you make the focus all about one person.
But when it comes to captain Bob Murphy, who on Saturday plays his 300th AFL game against Brisbane Lions, there had to be an exception.
Murphy, 34, did his best to protest any special treatment at the club this week, jokingly saying to Beveridge in Tuesday’s press conference, “If you say yes,” about a special pre-game address, “I’ll spew”.
But the occasion was too special to ignore, Beveridge said, for one of the most “universally-adored” men in football.
“We try and brush over milestone games,” Beveridge said with a smile.
“(But) there is no doubt Bob is a bit different to most milestones.
“It’s an incredible milestone, just amazing, and no doubt I think his teammates will feel inspired by the feat.
“We’ve just got to make sure we weigh through how emotional we get about the whole thing. It’s a very special week.”
There were tears when Beveridge orchestrated one of the most memorable grand final moments in recent history last year, handing over his premiership medal to the rangy defender, who missed the decider as he recovered from a second torn ACL.
Indeed, the premiership flame still flickers for Murphy, and the coach suggested the gun defender may consider playing on in 2018, his form over the first four rounds this season had been so strong.
“Steady on”, Murphy laughed.
The Gippsland product said he never expected to achieve this sort of longevity in the game, admitting he was just happy to snare a new pair of training shorts and top when he first arrived at the club in 1999, with the No.13 draft pick.
To avoid becoming burnt out by football, Murphy said he often tried to reinvigorate his childhood attitudes to the game.
“I’ve tried to check-in with the 12-year-old self every now and again,” Murphy said.
“Footy is a hard game and unrelenting, there’s a lot of pressure internally, externally.
“I’ve tried to look at it through the lens of how I was when I was 12 – how fortunate I would have felt at that age to still be playing.
“It’s not everything, but it’s something I’ve done over the years.”
That spirituality and lateral-thinking is what makes Murphy one of the game’s most unique characters. But Beveridge said it was balanced out by a fierce competitive side which shines on game day.
“There’s the emotional and empathetic side to ‘Murph’ that we all tap into here and there because we all aren’t that creatively-minded,” he said.
“But there is a grunt to him that you don’t see. There is that ‘put on the war paint’ attitude on game day that most of you don’t see, but his teammates do and we do. And we need.
“And I’m sure he will put on his war paint again this week.”
Beveridge said Murphy’s impact on the club’s 2016 premiership win could hardly be more profound.
“There was some uncertainty at the football club and we needed certain people to blaze a new trail and show the team, and when you consider the next season he was All-Australian captain, as a half back flanker (was outstanding),” he said.
“So from a performance perspective and leading by example, you can only imagine what he did behind the scenes.
“He was so significantly involved in (the premiership) and influenced and contributed to it, so it is fitting that he gets this opportunity off his own bat to persist and come back and play, and who knows what this year entails.”
SOURCE: newsnow sport