Carlton captain Marc Murphy has served up a brutal ultimatum to his band of AFL underperformers, telling them to shape up or ship out.
The Blues have slipped to 0-2 after two rounds despite holding handy quarter-time leads against both Richmond and West Coast.
From the first change, Carlton’s slips have been severe, losing the last three quarters to Richmond by 43 points.
Against West Coast it was an 81-point reversal.
Murphy said he’d had a “tough weekend just thinking about the game”, reaching the conclusion that the mental lapses must be stopped.
It’s been enough to make the baby-faced Blues leader lay down the law to the playing group.
“As individuals, everyone’s got to have a hard look at themselves and work out whether they really want to be here and they want to be successful,” he said.
“As captain I’ve really got to lead that and make sure that the boys are following and doing everything they can.”
Murphy was a late starter to Carlton’s Monday morning training, after holding a long conversation with under-fire coach Mick Malthouse.
While the veteran coach may swing the axe for their clash with Essendon, Murphy said he didn’t expect changes to be stark.
Ruckman Robert Warnock and Andrew Walker are set to return from injury in round three, but Matthew Kreuzer is still at least a week away.
Instead, the improvement needs to come from inside each player, with the captain adamant his side’s problem was mental, not physical.
“To say we’re not fit enough after quarter-time, it’s got nothing to do with it,” he said.
“It’s definitely above the shoulders.”
Malthouse’s future has been the subject of white-hot speculation, given the club’s current trajectory and the master coach’s contract expiring at the end of the year.
But Murphy made support for the three-time flag winning coach as clear as he could.
“Mick can’t kick a footy for us,” he said.
“From a player’s point of view, and as captain, we just need to focus on playing footy.
“There’s no point listening to the speculation or getting involved with it.
“We’re right behind Mick and Mick’s right behind us.”
Malthouse does have some new support on the training track, with former Collingwood and North Melbourne spearhead Saverio Rocca joining the club as a part-time coach to help Carlton’s forwards, led by Levi Casboult, improve their output.
“Big Sav started last week, its good to have him down here,” Murphy said.
“It’ll be good to see him work with Levi and rest of the forwards hopefully kicking the ball straight through the middle.”