OPINION

That ageing body is failing Sydney Swan Buddy Franklin

Lance Franklin's career began to decline when heel and groin problems surfaced in 2018. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images
Lance Franklin's career began to decline when heel and groin problems surfaced in 2018. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images

Swans forward Lance Franklin will be sidelined for the remainder of the season

Lance Franklin's hopes of becoming only the sixth player in AFL/VFL history to kick 1000 career goals appear little more than a pipedream.

The champion forward, 33, has kicked 944 goals in 300 games for Hawthorn and Sydney.

But as Buddy nears the end of a magnificent career, he is struggling to recover from a succession of soft-tissue injuries and will be sidelined for the remainder of this season.

His decline started in 2018 when he battled heel and groin problems despite managing to boot 57 goals in 19 games.

Last season, the four-time Coleman medallist was restricted to 10 matches because of hamstring/groin issues.

Franklin's 2020 campaign began disastrously when he had preseason surgery on his right knee. Subsequent hamstring and groin problems has meant he has not played at all this year.

The dynamic left-footer is contracted to the Swans for another two seasons, but whether his body will allow him to complete this commitment is problematic.

The last man to kick 100 goals in a season (2008), Franklin shifted to Sydney at the end of 2013 with a desire of adding to his two premiership medals with Hawthorn.

Despite many individual accolades and two more Grand Final appearances, Buddy has not achieved that aim with the Swans.

But he is a crowd-pleaser who has helped lift the code's profile in the Harbour City.

Losing Franklin didn't hurt the Hawks either, helping with the retention of key players.

They also picked up Ben McEvoy and James Frawley, who each became premiership players for the famous club.

WRONG VENUE FOR JACKSON HONOUR

While it was fitting to see the great Syd Jackson honoured for his immense contribution to the AFL and Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander people, the ceremony during the Sir Doug Nicholls round should have been held in Darwin rather than Perth.

Jackson, 76, hails from Western Australia and started his senior career with WAFL club East Perth, but he made his name as a brilliant dual premiership half-forward for Carlton.

Given the current circumstances and Jackson's health problems, the AFL decided it was too risky for him to make the trip to the Northern Territory for the Blues' game against Gold Coast, so the presentation was held at half-time during last week's Fremantle-Sydney game at Optus Stadium.

But Jackson did not have an affiliation with the Dockers or Swans, and undoubtedly it would have been more appropriate to hold the ceremony at TIO Stadium, where Carlton's current indigenous stars Eddie Betts, Liam Jones, Jack Martin and Sam Petrevski-Seton - along with thousands of Blues supporters around the country - would have enjoyed celebrating the moment with "Uncle Syd".

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Carlton's remarkable 1970 Grand Final win over Collingwood, and Jackson and his teammates have been denied an opportunity to gather and relive the triumph because of COVID-19 restrictions.

While the Blues will pay tribute to their '70 premiership heroes on their website and social media channels this week, it is a shame that this Sunday's game against the Magpies will not be played in front of a packed house at the MCG.

The Gabba clash deserves top billing, with the Blues making steady progress in their first full season under coach David Teague.

If Carlton can make the finals for the first time since 2013, it will confirm the sentiment expressed by co-captain Patrick Cripps, who proclaimed excitedly in the dressing rooms after the win over the Suns: "The Blues are back."

FRIENDLY ON-FIELD BANTER ANNOYING

The sight of opposing players enjoying convivial on-field chats has become more prevalent this season than in previous years.

Having a conversation on the ground is not new, and it is common for players to try to upset opponents with a cheeky remark to put them off their game.

However, this year the on-field chat appears to have become much, much friendlier.

Speaking to several well-placed sources this week, the consensus is that teams in the hubs are getting to know each other better, catching the same flights and staying in the same accommodation.

Often the light-hearted banter occurs between former teammates.

But it is annoying for supporters watching on TV, particularly those of lower-ranked clubs, when their team is being thrashed and players are enjoying a laugh after the opposition kicks a goal.

Jack Newnes' exciting game-winner against Fremantle was among the very best. Picture: Will Russell/AFL Photos via Getty Images

Jack Newnes' exciting game-winner against Fremantle was among the very best. Picture: Will Russell/AFL Photos via Getty Images

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Peter from Port Fairy, Victoria asks: Is Jack Newnes' goal against Fremantle one of the greatest to win a game after the final siren?

Absolutely Peter, it was up there with the best I've seen including Malcolm Blight (1976), Stephen Kernahan (1987), Gary Buckenara (1987), Tom Hawkins (2012) and Luke Shuey (2017).

Everything was against the Blue - wet ball, on the boundary line and the wrong side for a right-footer, hostile crowd, problems with a photographer and security staff - yet Newnes' drop punt split the centre post-high.

It has to be the goal of the year, even better than Robbie Gray's effort for Port Adelaide earlier this season.

  • This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.