Carlton coach Mick Malthouse has backed Marc Murphy, saying the Blues' new skipper had increased his workrate in the opening two rounds of the AFL season.
The Blues have started with narrow losses to Richmond and Collingwood, while there has been some criticism of Murphy's defensive play.
But the new Carlton coach is impressed with his captain's efforts so far.
"In statistical data alone his work ethic from last year increased dramatically," Malthouse said.
"He was one of our better players last week and I know his work ethic is something like nearly eight per cent higher than last year."
Carlton face another stern test on Saturday night at Etihad Stadium when they play Geelong, who have started with comeback wins against Hawthorn and North Melbourne.
In his last few years as Collingwood coach, Malthouse oversaw some epic battles against the Cats.
His last game in charge of the Magpies was their 2011 grand final loss to Geelong.
"They are a very well-organised, structured team, well-coached, well-led and kids come in and they're expected to play a certain role," Malthouse said of Geelong.
"People talk about the culture that the senior players develop and that's what I'm trying to do here, that's what I tried to do at Collingwood and West Coast."
With two losses to start the season, Malthouse said he would continue to experiment with his side.
"It may well be horses for courses until we come across find the right combination," said Malthouse.
"This is expected.
"There's a few players I knew by name and coached against once or twice.
"I believe it's giving everyone a chance to show their wares."
Carlton made four changes to face Geelong, with 2012 best and fairest award winner Heath Scotland back from a club-imposed suspension.
Malthouse coached him at Collingwood, before Scotland went to the Blues because he wanted to play in the midfield.
Malthouse said the game had changed and Scotland had adjusted to it.
Meanwhile, the Blues coach does not accept that his team could struggle to make the finals if they suffered another loss this weekend.
"Week 22 will tell you whether you're in or out, not week three," he said.