Robert Murphy (footballer)

Robert Murphy (born 9 June 1982) is a former professional Australian rules footballer who played for the Western Bulldogs Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL). Renowned for his silky skills[1] and leadership qualities, Murphy also proved a versatile player, equally capable of playing in attack or in defence depending on the situation. He was appointed as the Bulldogs' captain for 2015 following the departure of predecessor Ryan Griffen.[2]

Robert Murphy
Murphy playing in March 2017.
Personal information
Full name Robert Murphy
Date of birth (1982-06-09) 9 June 1982
Original team(s) Warragul (GFL)
Gippsland Power (TAC Cup)
Draft No. 13, 1999 national draft
Height 187 cm (6 ft 2 in)
Weight 81 kg (179 lb)
Position(s) Defender / midfielder
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
20002017 Western Bulldogs 312 (183)
Representative team honours
Years Team Games (Goals)
2008 Victoria 1 (1)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 2017.
Career highlights
Sources: AFL Tables,

Early life

Murphy is the third and youngest child of John and Monica Murphy. Both parents belonged formerly to Catholic orders, John as a priest and Monica as a nun. He has one brother, Ben, and a sister, Bridget.[3]

AFL career

Murphy was drafted to the Western Bulldogs with pick 13 in the 1999 National Draft. After spending much of the 2000 season developing his slim frame,[4] he made his debut in Round 19 against Carlton at Princes Park, gathering 13 disposals and kicking a goal in a thrilling 3 point victory.[5] In 2001 he was nominated for the AFL Rising Star award in round 16 after playing St Kilda.[1]

In 2005, under new coach Rodney Eade, Murphy cemented a place as a small centre half forward. He kicked 33 goals from this position and his overhead marking and leading ability were invaluable to the team. As part of the leadership group he led his younger teammates by great example across the half forward line.

On 26 May 2006 Murphy injured his left knee during a horrible collision in the Bulldogs' 34 point loss to Collingwood. This injury caused him to miss the remainder of the 2006 season, including what would have been his first finals series. After successful reconstruction, he returned to action in the 2007 NAB Cup series in February 2007. He injured his right knee early in the 2008 season, but played on for the remainder of the season, before undergoing surgery to repair a damaged patellar tendon in September 2008.[6]

Murphy was back to form resembling his best in 2010, when he posted his second top-five finish in the club best and fairest. He spent more time across half-back, where his disposal and decision-making were up to his usual high standard. In games against Essendon and Fremantle he collected a career-best 28 disposals. He missed three games mid-year with a knee injury which was again aggravated in the preliminary final, requiring post-season surgery.

In 2011 he had one of his best ever seasons, finishing second in the Bulldogs' best and fairest award,[7] and earning his first selection in an All-Australian team, being named on a half-back flank.[8]

In 2015 he was named captain of the year at the AFLPA awards becoming the fourth player to win the award in his first year as a captain and was also named captain of the all Australian team becoming the first ever player to have collected both honours in the same season.

On 10 April 2016, in the final minutes of the Bulldogs three-point loss to Hawthorn, Murphy sustained a knee injury while contesting a mark in the Hawks' forward 50. Scans later revealed he had injured his knee and had sustained a season-ending ruptured anterior cruciate ligament. Murphy later confirmed that he would play on for the Dogs in the 2017 season,[9] and he ultimately missed the club's premiership win in October. Easton Wood was named as his replacement as captain. Robert Murphy played the final game of his career in round 23 where he collected 15 disposals and 1 goal in a 9-point loss to Hawthorn.


 G  Goals  B  Behinds  K  Kicks  H  Handballs  D  Disposals  M  Marks  T  Tackles
Season Team No. Games G B K H D M T G B K H D M T
Totals Averages (per game)
2000 Western Bulldogs 2231013720410.
2001 Western Bulldogs 216201056016545160.
2002 Western Bulldogs 219561969429093270.30.310.34.915.34.91.4
2003 Western Bulldogs 2225327310137498310.
2004 Western Bulldogs 2191682186928785400.80.411.53.615.14.52.1
2005 Western Bulldogs 222331928477361172261.50.912.93.516.47.81.2
2006 Western Bulldogs 291312972211970111.41.310.82.413.27.81.2
2007 Western Bulldogs 217191318845233110231.10.811.12.613.76.51.4
2008 Western Bulldogs 2243418321108429209421.40.813.44.517.98.71.8
2009 Western Bulldogs 216101518685271128200.60.911.65.316.98.01.3
2010 Western Bulldogs 22187281122403135220.40.313.45.819.26.41.0
2011 Western Bulldogs 2216430612843477360.
2012 Western Bulldogs 2212029512542078330.
2013 Western Bulldogs 21913729612241888430.70.415.66.422.04.62.3
2014 Western Bulldogs 2224529415845291390.
2015 Western Bulldogs 2212232414747196320.
2016 Western Bulldogs 23015529841960.00.318.39.728.06.32.0
2017 Western Bulldogs 21710720812833684360.60.412.27.519.84.92.1
Career 312 183 127 3940 1627 5567 1682 484 0.6 0.4 12.6 5.2 17.8 5.4 1.6

Personal life

He is married to wife Justine, and has three children – a son, Jarvis, and two daughters, Frankie and Delilah.[11]

Murphy features frequently in the media. He writes a weekly column in the sport section of The Age newspaper. An article he wrote about playing against Steve Johnson[12] earned him a highly commended prize in the 2012 Australian Football Media Association awards.[13]

He was formerly a regular panelist on the AFL 360 television talk show on Fox Footy. He is now a frequent guest of the show while not a regular panelist. In 2018 in collaboration with Fox Footy he released his own short weekly series called 'Bob,' where he interviews a number of Australian icons. Murphy also hosts the Western Bulldogs' podcast "Freedom in a Cage" along with retired basketball player Chris Anstey.


  1. Fuller, Mark (12 August 2001). "The pup-and-comers". The Sunday Age.
  2. "Murphy to captain Bulldogs". 21 November 2014.
  3. Hanlon, Peter (15 June 2011). "A clan of true believers". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  4. Ryan, Melissa (4 February 2001). "From boys to men with bark". The Sunday Age.
  5. Connolly, Rohan (16 July 2000). "Still life in the old Dogs". The Sunday Age.
  6. Stevens, Mark (12 November 2008). "Delay for Murphy's return". Herald Sun.
  7. "2011 Awards, Charlie Sutton Medal".
  8. Holmesby, Luke (19 September 2011). "Murphy 'over the moon'".
  9. Niall, Jake; Waterworth, Ben (11 April 2016). "Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge says he's optimistic Bob Murphy will play on despite injury". Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  10. "AFL Tables - Robert Murphy - Stats - Statistics".
  11. Hanlon, Peter (22 November 2009). "Jock making way for Frankie". Archived from the original on 31 December 2012.
  12. Murphy, Bob (31 May 2012). "Trick of the light, or just another Stevie J trick?".
  13. "The Age receives top honours at AFL Media Awards". 20 September 2012.
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