Lance Franklin has strengthened his case for an AFL return in Sydney next weekend after getting through his first competitive minutes in more than 18 months unscathed.
Franklin played two quarters for the Swans in a pre-season reserves match against Greater Western Sydney on Sunday morning, which was played in slippery, rainy conditions at the Giants’ Olympic Park headquarters.
GWS defender Jake Stein trails Lance Franklin as he attacks a loose ball on Sunday morning.Credit:Edwina Pickles
In a welcome sign for the Swans, who stunned Brisbane by 31 points in their opening-round AFL clash on Saturday night, the 34-year-old looked fit, moved freely and most importantly came away with no fresh injury.
Franklin hadn’t played a full-blown game since round 23, 2019 – when he kicked four goals in his 300th AFL match – but now appears to be a strong chance to feature against Adelaide at the SCG on Saturday.
He only came off for a couple of breaks during the half he was involved in, with GWS defender Jake Stein manning him for most of that time, and grew into the contest.
Franklin only hit the scoreboard once, wheeling around on his left foot in the first quarter after dropping a mark but scooping up the loose ball, before pushing his shot fractionally wide.
Lance Franklin takes a grab at the GWS Giants’ home base on Sunday.Credit:Edwina Pickles
Coach John Longmire watched on from the sidelines and now has a decision to make over Franklin, who last weekend clocked 13km in training – the distance he would usually cover in a full match.
Much will depend on how well Franklin pulls up, but another outing in Sydney’s reserves seems highly unlikely for the superstar forward, who is in the highest-paying year of his rich $10 million contract.
Franklin would add an extra layer of dynamism and experience to a youthful Swans outfit that had no trouble scoring at the Gabba on Saturday night, with first-gamers Logan McDonald and Errol Gulden kicking three goals apiece.
His selection would guarantee a bumper attendance at the SCG, where the Swans haven’t played since July last year.
Franklin missed all of last season due to repeated soft-tissue injuries, and hit another hurdle this past summer with calf soreness, but now appears to be on the brink of his long-awaited AFL comeback.
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