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Bob Murphy on the weight of AFL captaincy and whether Carlton should unburden Patrick Cripps


Bob Murphy wonders whether Carlton co-captain Patrick Cripps would benefit from relinquishing the club captaincy.

Murphy, who skippered the Western Bulldogs for three years, has explained in-depth the weight and burden that comes with leading a football club and wonders whether releasing Cripps from that could help him perform.

The 26-year-old has captained Carlton since the start of 2019 and has been below his best across the last two seasons.

“It’s funny you should bring that up because we were talking to Shannon Hurn yesterday and he talked about that very thing (the weight of the captaincy),” Murphy told SEN’s Bob and Andy.

“I was captain for three years, the last three years (of his career), and it definitely has a weight to it.

“There’s an energy to it that puts a weight in your tyres to a certain degree, but there is a weight to it and probably more than what some people expect, I think.

“I’m not suggesting he hands over the captaincy straight away, but I do wonder, particularly because there are some good options there, I wonder if unburdening himself with the captaincy might lighten the load on him a little bit.

“It could have a physical impact, but maybe more on the mental toll that captains and leaders play with.”

What inherently about footy captaincy causes a mental drain?

“I think you’re tuned into people’s problems,” Murphy added.

“Your antenna, this is how I found it, because football clubs as a business model it’s not a great model.

“44 players, 22 spots and at the end of the year there is redundancies even if you win (the Grand Final).

“It’s not a great model for everyone being happy all the time.

“It constantly feels like there’s holes in the boat. When you’re captain, you’re very much in tune with who’s in and out of the team, who’s out of favour with the coach, the relationships, all of that.”

Cripps serves as club captain alongside Sam Docherty, who himself was having a tough year before a season-ending injury.

Jacob Weitering filled in as skipper in Round 18 when both were out of the side, with the burden seemingly sitting comfortably on his shoulders.

“With Crippa out and Doc injured, to captain the club against the old arch-rival and get a win at the ‘G was a great feeling,” Weitering told SEN’s Whateley.

“I found out the day before that I was going to skipper the side. I told my parents and my partner, and the messages started flowing in when the club released it.

“It was a great opportunity, and a fantastic result for me personally and the club… it’s just disappointing that seven days later the result can be so different.”

Weitering and 21-year-old Sam Walsh are Carlton’s current vice-captains, alongside veteran Ed Curnow.

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