BRETT Ratten last night accused his beaten group of playing as individuals rather than as a team, and declared it was time several underperforming players stood up as the Blues emerge from a 69-point drubbing by Adelaide into an unknown stretch without injured midfielder Marc Murphy.
While scans will today reveal the extent of damage to the AC joint of Murphy's left shoulder, Ratten challenged his players to lift their work ethic and warned them the intensity and congestion around stoppages employed by the Crows - as St Kilda had done six days earlier - was something they would have to get used to and overcome.
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''We'll have to re-engineer a few players and get them going,'' Ratten said. ''It's time a couple stood up who haven't played as well as they could have for the last few weeks.
''If everyone lifts across the board we'll get the result done, but if we try to do it as individuals, 'I've got to lift 30 per cent for Murph', we're not going to get the result done. That's a big thing that's happened the last few weeks - blokes trying to do it for themselves a little bit, when we had the opportunity to work harder together.''
While Adelaide has now beaten Sydney, Geelong and Carlton in its past three games to be ''right up there'' in Ratten's eyes, the Blues were unable to respond to the contention widely espoused last week that an aggressive approach and numbers and intensity around the contest would bring them undone. Yesterday, Adelaide won 26 more contested possessions, and 43 more uncontested balls.
Murphy had managed only five possessions under the attention of Nathan van Berlo when he was injured midway through the second quarter. Bryce Gibbs had another poor afternoon, Matthew Kreuzer was well beaten by former teammate Sam Jacobs, Eddie Betts had no impact, and Kade Simpson was quiet after kicking the first two goals of the game.
''They put their head over the ball and won clearances and the contested ball,'' Ratten said of the Crows. ''I just thought they did it so much better than us - 50-50s, two-v-ones, half contests, they just smashed us in that area of the game.
''They beat us inside the bubble, and then smashed us outside the bubble as well.''
Full-back Michael Jamison said the players had to take criticism on the chin and effect change, or opponents would continue to ''own the contest'', as the Crows had. ''If we get sad and sulk, and want things to change around without doing anything, it's just not going to happen,'' Jamison said. ''We've got the onus now to change things internally, and if we don't do that, teams are just going to keep being aggressive and dominating us.
''We've got to make sure we take it up to the competition now. We don't want to come out and apologise and say we're embarrassing, that's an easy out. I think we've got to take everything that comes to us this week and internally change things pretty quickly.''
Ratten also said his players - who kicked just three goals after quarter-time - hadn't run hard enough in both directions, which he put down to work ethic. ''It was more about, 'It's not going my way', do you go into your shell and start playing, 'I've got my bloke, I'm okay', when the best teams are the ones who do it together. At the moment we're just more about the individual and not about the team.''
The Crows scored heavily from stoppage clearances, and Ratten made it clear to his players they needed drastic improvement in an area that began to fall away in the round six defeat of Greater Western Sydney.
''Teams are putting more numbers around there … we're going to confront it week-in, week-out. As we spoke to the players about after the game, expect high numbers around the stoppages because they're going to be there.''
The Blues get some respite against Melbourne on Sunday, but face Port Adelaide and West Coast away either side of Geelong back at Etihad, a home ground that has been anything but welcoming; yesterday's loss takes its record since 2010 to 10-22 at Docklands.
Of Murphy, Ratten said he would definitely miss next week. ''Whether it's two, four, I don't know what the outcome is yet. He'll miss some footy, I don't know how significant,'' he said.