Murphy lost 3kg after cheek break

Carlton’s Marc Murphy and Lachie Henderson during a media conference. Photo: Sebastian CostanzoCarlton skipper Marc Murphy has revealed he lost three kilograms and was unable to eat properly for three weeks as a result of a sickening head clash with Luke Hodge that left him with a severe facial injury and temporarily derailed his season.

Murphy and Hodge had their eyes firmly fixed on the ball at Etihad Stadium in round 12 when the heavy clash forced Murphy from the field with concussion and a fractured cheekbone. He was taken to hospital and expected to miss up to a month.

The incident could not have come at a worse time for the tough midfielder, for he had just had 31 disposals against Essendon and rediscovered his groove. This came on top of a restrictive right knee, operated on over summer, which has reduced him to one training session a week.

Surgery to repair the cheekbone meant he was unable to eat properly, living on what he said on Monday was a diet of protein shakes and mushy food.

As the surgery was in a delicate spot, he could not lift weights, for fear it would affect the alignment of his jaw.

The Blues had the bye immediately after the loss to the Hawks and, while he would miss just the one game, a loss to the Swans in the wet at the SCG, Murphy, initially donning a protective helmet, had to again kick-start his campaign.

There would be subsequent criticism, particularly after he was held to just 13 disposals by Fremantle’s master tagger Ryan Crowley, prompting coach Mick Malthouse to remind him that ”top quality players set an agenda to absorb the tag. Top quality midfielders over the last decade get tagged.”

Now recognised as the Blues’ premier midfielder, Murphy, as Michael Voss points out, is always tagged, with rivals no longer reverting to an an ”ad hoc” system between him and teammate Chris Judd.

Determined to rebound, Murphy’s strong work in the past month has helped to re-energise the Blues, culminating in 23 disposals and three goals against Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium and 26 against the Tigers on Sunday in a victory he said was ”one of the better feelings” he has had in football.

”It’s been an up-and-down year for myself. When you are not performing as well as what you would like, you probably have to get back to the basics,” Murphy said.

”The last couple of weeks, probably when our backs have been against the wall, and probably myself as well, that’s when you really want to stand up.

”I have been pretty happy with the way I have sort of responded in the last couple of weeks, but that’s only two games.”

President and Blues legend Stephen Kernahan, who holds the AFL record for most games as captain, said at the weekend Murphy was still learning the captaincy craft, but that was to be expected, as the role took time to grow into.

Murphy, 26, is not the most vocal of leaders – Kade Simpson, as noted by Murphy and Michael Jamison, has become the team’s loudest voice on the field – but his professionalism sets an example.

The 164-game veteran has used Malthouse, midfield coach Robert Wiley and his father John, a Fitzroy legend, for advice.

As Murphy and his Blues now prepare to face Sydney at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night, it is clear what he wants to achieve.

”Finals footy is where you want to step up as an individual. We have had quite a few performances like that from a lot of the boys over the last couple of weeks,” Murphy said.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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