BOB MURPHY's influence at the Whitten Oval was so strong after his season-ending knee injury, Dale Morris doubts the Western Bulldogs would have won the 2016 premiership without him.
Sidelined since round three after rupturing his left anterior cruciate ligament against Hawthorn, Murphy, 34, has unwittingly become a touching side story during the Bulldogs' fairytale finals campaign.
The Bulldogs skipper was in tears when his team broke a run of seven losing preliminary finals against Greater Western Sydney last Saturday night, seemingly battling a mix of personal disappointment and team elation as he walked among his victorious teammates on Spotless Stadium.
Murphy was again thrust into the limelight at the MCG on Saturday after the Bulldogs' 22-point win over the Sydney Swans, when Luke Beveridge called him on to the dais and presented him with the Jock McHale Medal he received as winning coach.
Beveridge then stepped back and allowed Murphy to raise the premiership cup with acting skipper Easton Wood, when the 295-gamer's excitement for his teammates overflowed.
Morris, who has played all 12 seasons of his career at the Whitten Oval alongside Murphy, said the two-time All Australian had been "phenomenal" around the club since his knee reconstruction.
"He's a bit of a mentor for everyone, he's still the captain of our club. He leads in all areas except for on the field because he just couldn't get out there," Morris said.
"Without him, I don't think we would be standing here now. A lot of credit goes to him as well.
"He's been fantastic, someone to lean on, someone who will put an arm around someone else.
"But he'll also hit people between the eyes. He sees the game, he senses what's happening, so well. He's been great."
Another long-time teammate Matthew Boyd was also full of praise for Murphy's work around the club since his injury.
"He's been unbelievable, really. You could forgive him for feeling a bit ‘woe is me’ and not being the selfless sort of guy that he is, but he's just a great human being. We've got a club full of them and he's the best of them," Boyd said.
"Since he did his injury the first day he rocked into the club he was a huge support to all of us and he's been an amazing support to Easton Wood as captain and a huge support to all his younger teammates, even the older ones."
Murphy was on the MCG before Saturday's game talking to the Bulldogs' backline group as it completed its warm-up.
Defender Morris said Murphy was able to calm players' nerves in such tense moments with some well-placed words.
"We have our backline little warm-up and we all get together and he's like another coach," Morris said.
"(Assistant coach) Rohan Smith has been fantastic for me personally and the group and then to have 'Murph' alongside him has just been great.
"He knows what we're feeling as players in those moments, so he's able to talk to us in a way that we understand because he's been there."
Morris had not known Beveridge was going to present the Jock McHale Medal to Murphy, but enjoyed the moment.
"It was a beautiful touch," Morris said.
Boyd said seeing Murphy on the dais with the premiership cup had been "really special".
"He's the heartbeat of our footy club. He's the absolute spirit and driving force behind why we've got such a tight bond as a group," Boyd said.
"I said it earlier, this (premiership) is as much for Bob Murphy as it is for the players who played."
Murphy considered retiring after suffering his season-ending injury, but eventually decided to play on next year.
And having finally tasted premiership success, he reckons the Bulldogs won't be giving it up lightly.
"We're taking over the world tonight," he said with a grin.
"The first call of business is to get rolling drunk. We'll get to the taxes tomorrow."