“For me, it’s actually exciting coming into training and seeing how much they are improving quickly. Who knows when that will be and how far we will jump but I believe that we can jump pretty quick.”
The new wave this time focuses on the likes of co-skipper Patrick Cripps (2013 national draft), Paddy Dow (2017), Charlie Curnow (2015), Harry McKay (2015), Jacob Weitering (2015), Lochie O’Brien (2017) and new faces Sam Walsh, the latest No.1 pick to walk into Princes Park, and former Crow Mitch McGovern.
Walsh, McGovern and Will Setterfield, the former Giant, are set to officially step out for the first time on Thursday, while Mick Gibbons, from the VFL, is also in the mix.
Having also witnessed multiple revolutions in the coaching, recruiting, fitness and development departments, Murphy said the incumbents had done a fruitful job, and turned the spotlight on to the players to end a run of four straight years where the Blues have finished no higher than 14th, and twice have collected the wooden spoon, including last year when only two wins came.
The Blues have unveiled a strategic blueprint to claim their 17th flag by 2023, so the time for action has arrived.
“I have got no doubt we have drafted really well over the last three or four years, including guys from other footy clubs. That’s the reason why last year I wanted to stay on with this footy club because I believed that we are certainly on the right path,” Murphy said.
“We have got really good people in good positions at the footy club and it’s now just up to us players to get the ball rolling. I think the days of seeing 10 to 11 players exit the footy club [after a season] are done.
“It’s now about building this group as a whole – three or four changes you, obviously, have to make at the end of every year – but I am really positive about where this footy is at and where we are going. Hopefully, I can hang on for as long as I possibly can.”
Murphy, 31, will become only the 13th Blue to play at least 250 games. All going well, he will surpass Stephen Kernahan (251), Brett Ratten (255), Alex Jesaulenko (256), David McKay (263) and Geoff Southby (268) this year, vaulting him into eighth spot.
The former skipper will have a new role this year, spending more away from the centre-bounce furnace, allowing his clean ball skills to be utilised on a wing, half-forward and half-back.
His run will be needed against the Tigers, for the Blues have not beaten them since the 2013 elimination final, while their last round-one victory came in 2012.
Jon Pierik is a sports writer with The Age, focusing primarily on AFL football, cricket and basketball. He has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.