Player focus: Nathan Murphy
Since rejoining the Sandringham Dragons TAC Cup program, 17-year-old swingman Nathan Murphy has set alight his chances of making it onto an AFL list at this year’s NAB AFL National Draft.
In his breakout game for the Dragons against the Bendigo Pioneers in round 13, Murphy has recruiters minds set firmly on officially converting the talented cricketer to a footballing future.
Murphy, who has been playing cricket since he was seven years old and football from the age of eight, kicked three goals in the victory to confidently cement himself as a hopeful during this year’s draft period.
“Since then it has always been cricket in cricket season and footy in footy season,” he said of his avid interest and commitment to both cricket and football.
Like his Victorian under-19 cricket teammate Will Sutherland, who chose to pursue a career in cricket recently, Murphy will be forced to make the tough decision come seasons end. However, he isn’t fazed by the decision to come.
“I’m extremely passionate about both [sports] so to be in a position where I might have to pick one is a very lucky one,” the Dragons swingman said.
“The aim for me is to play sport at the highest level so I will have to wait and see what is to come.”
Murphy has been involved with the Dragons in the TAC Cup for a number of years, stepping out of the program to pursue cricket late last season before rejoining in the middle of the year.
Sandringham Dragons and Carlton AFLW assistant coach Jackson Kornberg said Murphy had been “terrific” since returning to the Dragons squad this year.
“Nath’s been terrific for us since rejoining the program,” he said.
“Since coming back he’s shown a real capacity to learn and improve which I’ve been most impressed it.
“He constantly seeks feedback and has a real desire for improvement,” Kornberg said of Murphy’s commitment to training.
Murphy, who made his Dragons debut in round 11 against the Geelong Falcons, has slotted seamlessly into Sandringham’s lineup. Initially playing as a defender, Murphy moved to a role up forward against the Bendigo Pioneers where he played his best game for the club.
“It’s been great to be able to experience what it takes to play at both ends of the ground,” he said.
“I have played my best footy for the Dragons up forward but I’m just happy to be getting a game for the club.”
The 188cm swingman models his game on the likes of Tim Membrey and Harry Taylor, opting to use his height and versatility to advantage.
“With my body type I like to model my game on Tim Membrey who plays the third tall role for St Kilda. He backs himself to fly for marks when he has to but as soon as [the ball] hits the ground he is even more dangerous.”
“The best part to my game is my ability to use my height. I’m classified as a medium sized player but because of my lanky arms and legs I’m able to contest for marks but be strong when the ball hits the ground.
Kornberg echoed Murphy’s statements on his adaptability saying his ability to be a “versatile prospect” has added a new dimension to his game.
“[Against Bendigo] he had a really good aerial game, taking a few strong marks and kicking a few goals … which is a must at the next level now.”
His breakout season for both Brighton Grammar School (BGS) and the Dragons has earned Murphy an invite to this years NAB AFL Draft combine to be held in October.
Murphy, who is currently studying year 12 at BGS, maintains a “level head” despite the increasing social media chatter about his capabilities at this year’s draft.
“It’s all a bit exciting … but it’s about keeping a level head because at the end of the day the only that that I can do is keep trying to play good footy and get a win for the Dragons.
“It’s always good having a close group of mates who make sure I’m keeping my feet on the ground.
“When you start thinking about it too much that is when it starts affecting how you play … it is all about staying in the moment and to just keep doing what I can control.”
Outside of his busy life with cricket, football and VCE study, Murphy maintains he is like any other boy in year 12.
“I’m doing the same as most boys in year 12 ... I have a very close group of mates that I get along with really well, it’s always good to get away from the struggles of year 12 and have a good laugh with them.”
A keen surfer and golfer, he passes time at a holiday home in Jan Juc on the Bellarine Peninsula with family and friends.
“When I’m not playing sport or studying, I am playing more sport,” he said.
Always the professional, Murphy has a clear-cut pre-game routine, which he follows religiously.
“For any game of footy I have pasta the night before … I have the same breakfast of cereal with an up & go and yoghurt … I like to wake up and be relaxed,” he said.
“The only real superstition is that I have to run out last when coming out of the rooms … it is a bit odd but if it could stay that way it would be much appreciated.”
Kavisha Di Pietro