Murphy stands out as Carlton glimpses future
Carlton's new captain stays calm under pressure. Photo: Getty Images
There wasn't a great deal for Carlton supporters to cheer about in the first term of the NAB Cup final. But perhaps by chance more than anything, there was a moment of symbolism highlighting the changing of the guard.
At the five-minute mark, Marc Murphy, the new captain, headed to the bench and was replaced by Chris Judd, his predecessor in the top role.
Judd, of course, had only started on the pine because he was being eased into his first game of the season. But for those of a certain mind, it showed this was now Murphy's team, with Judd, as great as he still is, providing support.
Murphy's first-quarter efforts reinforced this. At times running wide of Daniel Rich and Brent Moloney, he had nine possessions, including six contested, and four clearances. That's a heavy-hitting effort - the kind Judd has been synonymous with since joining the Blues.
Judd initially hovered around half-forward but it was no surprise the Blues regained their groove when Murphy and Judd found themselves on the ball in the second term. Smashed in the clearances in the first term despite Murphy's stellar effort, the Blues fought back.
Neither Judd nor Murphy exerted great statistical influence, but their presence meant the Lions had more to think about. Moloney was sent to Judd, with the pair negating each other, while Murphy worked from contest to contest.
''It may be a 'C' next to his name on the team sheet but he has gone about his business as usual. He is a true leader,'' triple-premiership Lion Chris Johnson said on 3AW at half-time.
It was the leadership of another captain though - Jonathan Brown - that stood out in the third term. Capitalising on the Lions' midfield run Brown showed why he is still one of the league's best forwards.
Murphy had just the three disposals. His quarter was probably best summed up when he appeared to baulk Daniel Merrett in attempting to snap a much-needed goal, only for the sprawling defender to deny him. Judd had only the four disposals and was subbed off.
By the night's end, it wasn't only in the first term that Blues' fans had little to cheer about. They lost their sting in the final term and the silverware headed north. It was a moment from which Murphy would learn.
If Carlton's history was any guide, he was always going to be anointed the new captain.
Yes, coach Mick Malthouse has a record of not necessarily filling the key role with his team's best player. However, if there was one club that has prided itself on having a blue-chip player as captain, it's been the Blue Boys.
In recent decades, the club has been led by the likes of Robert Walls, Mike Fitzpatrick, Wayne Johnston, Stephen Kernahan, Brett Ratten, Anthony Koutoufides and Judd.
There is little doubt Murphy, already with one best-and-fairest, will sit easily in that distinguished group when his career is complete.
The NAB Cup final may be a tip of the iceberg in terms of the season-proper, but Murphy took another important step, showing he is ready to lead.