Nathan Murphy is set for a big job in his first finals series at Collingwood. Image Design: Will Cuckson

It's been a long road for Nathan Murphy to partake in his first AFL Finals series. As he prepares for a big job on Saturday he know he has the full backing of his teammates and belief in himself

Nathan Murphy can’t wipe the smile off his face.

After sitting on the sidelines for three of the four finals campaigns in his time so far at Collingwood through various injury setbacks, the young Pie is setting himself for his first finals campaign at a sold-out MCG on Saturday afternoon against Geelong.

It’s been a long and sometimes painful road to get here.

But the 22-year-old’s short career to date has been built around two words. Resilience and Courage.

Several concussions, a facial fracture, and a dislocated ankle in the pre-season this year are some of the many setbacks that Murphy has had to endure in his short career to date.

Having represented Australia U17s and Victoria u17s and u19s as a wicketkeeper batter and choosing the footy path late in his schooling. A brave decision considering he thought he was better at cricket and his Football coach Robert Shaw advised him to stick with Cricket because he was still underdeveloped.

When speaking exclusively to The Inner Sanctum this week, the defender said that despite all the setbacks and bad luck over a tough few years, His love and passion for Football were never going to let the setbacks deter him from the game he loves.

“I thought I was a better cricket. I love my cricket. But footy was always the bigger passion” Murphy said.

“It was a pretty everyone says tough decision bucking was pretty easy for me in the end. Yeah, I’m very happy. It’s worked out well.

“I’ve grown up loving football, and I think I was never going to give it up. I know, I’ve had a lot of injuries, but I was never just gonna give it up on that”

“So I knew going through all of this, I’d always come back. And if it wasn’t meant to be wasn’t meant to be, but I was never just going to throw away an opportunity like this. I think I was always going to try and be as resilient as I can”.

After just two games in his debut season, Murphy didn’t play senior football again until round six last year due to a range of different injuries, adding 15 games to his name in 2021.

Now having worked his way back from injury and into Craig McRae’s starting backline, the young Pie is looking to put the frustrations of the interrupted years behind him.

“Those few years were tough,” he said. “18′ (2018) I got dropped for the first final, It was good to see the boys do really well but really hard to watch. 19′, 20′ i was injured.

“So there were probably times where I thought I’d never get to this point. But yeah, it’s crazy to think now that we’ll be playing against Geelong on Saturday. And that if for all those shows, like you only need three more wins, get your hands on a cup.

“There’s still a long way to go, obviously, but I think a lot of boys are just really excited for the challenge on Saturday”

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Confidence in all down back

It’s been quite the year for Murphy and the Magpies, with the defender’s return to the senior side coinciding with Collingwood’s unbelievable winning streak of 11 straight wins during the home and away season.

Playing alongside Darcy Moore, Jeremy Howe, and newly minted All-Australian Brayden Maynard, Murphy has become a staple of Collingwood’s backline and has been trusted with some big jobs this season. Lining up on some of the best power forwards in the competition.

He knows he doesn’t need to be best on ground or be the flashiest and most recognizable player. He knows he has the backing of his teammates and coaches to play his role in a system that is working.

“It’s obviously given me a lot of confidence.” He said. ” And I think that’s through Fly (Craig McRae), Leppa (Justin Leppitsch), And the people that I play with.

“I know I don’t have to go out and have 20-odd touches. That’s not my strength, my strength is just the play role and bring my aerial weapons. So I just know that if I go out and do that, the people around me will make me look good, because I’ve got to have the best back support me and Darcy (Moore) and Howie (Jeremy Howe).

“So if I just lock down my man, they’ll do what they’re capable of. So it’s a simple game. Sometimes we overcomplicate football.

“I just know that I have to play my role. And I get a lot of confidence from that”

So if it comes to pass on Saturday where he will likely spend time on either of All- Australian duo Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron, Murphy knows that he has the full confidence of his teammates to get the job done.

“I think it just allows them to relax more than anything,” he said. I think Darce was probably getting the bigger jobs at the start of the year. He probably couldn’t play his intercepting game. So I think it allows him to do that.

“They still give me a lot of confidence just being who they are. They’re freaks of the game. I think our backline just in general, we haven’t really changed for the last few months. So we all know what we’re capable of and we all trust each other. So it’s really nice.

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