FORMER Carlton captain Marc Murphy has stayed true to the Blues for 16 seasons but will need the club to repay his loyalty if he is to reach the 300 games milestone.
Murphy played his 295th match in navy blue when he lined up against West Coast at the SCG, but was on the losing side as the Blues were beaten by 22 points and slumped to a 4-8 record.
A first finals appearance for the Blues since 2013 is now an "uphill battle", coach David Teague said after the loss to the Eagles, and they may turn to developing – and testing – more youth over the next three months.
That approach wouldn't bode well for the 33-year-old Murphy, who would become just the sixth Carlton player to join the illustrious 300 club if he is selected in five more matches.
"Milestones like that are testament to all the hard work and sacrifices over the journey, and being loyal to the club," Murphy told AFL.com.au.
"My main motivation is to play in a successful side, that's why I'm still going. I just want to play a role in that and enjoy playing footy.
"If I get [to 300 games] it would be pretty nice, but at the moment I'm just trying to focus on getting a game week-to-week and trying to play my role."
THINGS WE LEARNED The Blues are no closer to finals
Before gathering 16 disposals against the Eagles, the two-time best and fairest winner had started the Blues' round 11 match against Sydney as the medical sub.
Murphy considered the sub role as being "dropped" which was something he hadn't experienced before in his career.
He had already been playing a new role this season, spending more time in the forward line rather than the midfield, where he's played throughout most of his career.
"I was pretty surprised [about being medical sub]. I thought I'd been doing enough to warrant playing week-to-week, but that was the coach's decision and I had to cop it on the chin," Murphy said.
"I had a strong focus on being positive around the group and having good energy around the place, not sooking it up.
"At the start of the season I was battling trying to impact games, because as a small forward it's a role where sometimes you can do a lot of good things but it can go unrewarded.
"I was told I still doing some pretty good things up the ground, but I got a bit of feedback that I needed to do a bit more. It was a combination of a few things but they wanted me to try to get inside 50 a bit more."
Murphy has only played in four finals campaigns with the Blues after being taken as the No.1 pick in the 2005 NAB AFL Draft.
The 2011 All-Australian and his club last played a final in 2013, and he has a 2-4 record in finals with both victories coming in elimination finals.
He is on a one-year contract signed late last season and is open to the idea of going around again next year.
"The legs still feel good and I'm still running quite well," Murphy said at the announcement of the Blues' new co-major sponsor Great Southern Bank.
"That will be a conversation, like it was last year in the last four weeks of the season, as to whether they want me to go on and whether I mentally or physically want to go on as well.
"We'll see how that pans out. I feel good but I know I'm no spring chicken."