Buddy’s form a great sign ahead of finals
During a 70-point romp against the Saints at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night, Franklin fired an ominous pre-finals warning to rivals.
Sydney Swans midfielder Josh Kennedy hopes Lance Franklin’s six-goal virtuoso performance against St Kilda is a sign of bigger things to come from the superstar forward in September.
He accumulated an equal career-high 28 possessions (10 contested), took nine marks (two contested) and kicked 6.1.
The best-on-ground effort came at an opportune time, given that in Franklin’s previous five games he’d tallied just 9.9.
He now has 67 goals for the season, just three behind the AFL’s leading goalkicker, West Coast spearhead Josh Kennedy.
After a tight first half, Franklin tore the game apart in a remarkable third quarter in which he collected 15 possessions (five contested), comprising eight kicks and seven handballs, along with three marks (one contested) and 3.0.
“It’s great to have him back firing. He was moving well and kicking them from outside 50, which are great signs at this time of year.”
Franklin looms as potentially the most important player in the finals series, but how important do his teammates think he is to their flag hopes?
“To have a real charge for the premiership, you need everyone up and about and playing to their strengths,” Kennedy emphasised.
“He’s obviously an integral part of the team and he’s going to be an integral part of our finals campaign, so we certainly need him firing.
“Hopefully tonight was a sign of things to come from him in September.”
Swans coach John Longmire was at his understated best, describing Franklin as “a good player” who’d produced a “pretty handy” third quarter.
“He actually played up the ground in the third quarter, and he’s such a beautiful field kick, (and) I think a few of others got on the end of a couple, which was handy,” Longmire said.
“We’ve got a pretty young forward line at the moment and he’s easily the most experienced player (there) – so (Franklin) has got a pretty important role from that aspect as well.
“That’s what makes him a good player: he can play up the ground and then be so useful going into the forward 50.”
The only other time Franklin has amassed 28 touches was when he was playing for Hawthorn against the Swans at the SCG in round nine, 2011, when he bagged 6.6 in a 46-point win.
On that occasion he received the three Brownlow votes, and appears certain to do so this time as well.