If you think even a tiny part of Bob Murphy wishes the Bulldogs hadn’t made the grand final while he’s out injured, you don’t know Bob Murphy at all.
That’s the resounding message from his teammates as they prepare for the club’s first grand final since 1961.
Murphy’s season-ending knee injury in round three was a a savage enough blow at the time, but a drought-breaking Dogs flag without their inspirational skipper seems cruel and unusual punishment for him.
It’s hard not to spare a thought for Murphy as the club basks in the glow of grand final week, but his positive influence on the group hasn’t faltered.
“There’s no doubt it would be bittersweet for him, but he’s a club man through and through,” Matthew Boyd says.
“He’s been a Bulldogs person all his life and will be for the rest of his life. I know that he’s really proud of this footy club and the fact that we’ve got to a grand final.
“He’ll want us to go that next step and he’ll be right there to support us throughout the week.
“Of course, he’d want to be out there with us but that’s just not the reality this year.
“It’s never been about Bob Murphy. It’s been about this group and this footy club – that will be no different this week.”
Murphy has described himself as a professional cheerleader during his side’s barnstorming run to Saturday’s premiership decider against Sydney.
But he’s bringing much more to the table than that.
He participated in a light training session on Tuesday, encouraging his teammates firsthand as he has done since he was cleared to resume running following a knee reconstruction.
The 34-year-old also plays an important role on match day.
“Murph’s been amazing throughout the whole season and he’s taken that to a new level in the finals series,” Dale Morris said.
“He’s supported the players and has almost been able to shield them a bit too.
“He’s a calming influence during breaks in the game … he gets around the guys and he knows exactly what we’re going through out on the field.
“So he can calm guys down and speak to them in a way that they understand and can act on straight away.
“He’s been awesome.”