Lance Franklin is a man with a long-term deal and a short-term goal, and he could be days away from the instant success he craves.
When the superstar forward came to Sydney last year he said he wanted to earn the respect of his teammates, to play good football and win premierships. He has achieved two of the three.
Like all successful clubs, the Swans have a culture in which no individual is bigger than the team, though Franklin clearly knows how to pull a crowd – and work it.
After addressing seemingly every media organisation in Australia, Franklin made the hundreds of red-and-white die-hards who had come watch the club’s final open training session of the year wait.
As his teammates warmed up with kick-to-kick, Franklin conducted his pre-training ritual in the privacy of the SCG dressing rooms.
When he emerged from the players’ race, he was given a rousing ovation by the fans, easily the loudest of the day. Even his teammates applauded, albeit in jest.
This is the week Franklin has been waiting for since he left Hawthorn on a lucrative deal that has left many concluding Sydney are buying success.
On his very first day in red and white last October, as critics of his mega-deal looked ahead to 2022 rather than 2014, Franklin explained why he became a Swan instead of a Giant.
“I wanted success pretty much straight away so that’s the reason why I chose Sydney,” Franklin said.
Just as Shane Warne once likened his life to a soap opera, the same could also be said of Franklin’s, with fate decreeing he must play his first grand final as a Swan against his old club.
“It’s worked out that way,” Franklin said a day after he fell four votes short of adding a Brownlow Medal to the Coleman in his first season in Sydney.
“In saying that once we cross the white line it’s just another game. I played them twice, I played for them in a lot of grand finals. It’s a big stage and a massive game. I’m really excited by it.”
Franklin is a big-game player, as he showed most recently with a best-on-ground performance last week, though his grand final record is steady rather than spectacular. Coincidentally, his best grand final occurred in a loss.
His form against Hawthorn this season could be a worry, depending on whether it’s viewed from a glass half-full, or half-empty perspective.
The latter approach will conclude that his combined tally of 5.12 is indication he gets weak at the knees against his former teammates. Subscribers of the former wonder how dominant he will be if he can kick straight.
“It was something I’ve spoken about earlier in the season, in the big games kicking the goals that count and it’s something I’ve been working on,” Franklin said.
“Hopefully on Saturday I can convert but in saying that we’ve got other forwards in the team that are able to kick the goals on Saturday. Hopefully we can share the workload and it’s not just me kicking the goals but all the other boys and midfielders.”
If it’s not Franklin kicking the goals then there’s a strong chance it will be the club’s other big recruit Kurt Tippett.
Tippett described his vantage point in the goal square as being the “best seat in the house” to watch Franklin at work.
“It’s awesome, everyone has seen the way he’s performed this season and handled himself, it’s been unreal,” Tippett said.
“I think I’ve become a better player through watching him and playing alongside him.”
The most expensive forward-line pairing has managed only 11 games together this season, which, ominously for opposition defences, suggests there is plenty of improvement to come.
“We couldn’t do a great deal of work in the pre-season and early in the year,” Tippett said.
“We’ve just been making it up as we go. I think we communicate, we’ve got a pretty good feel for each other and we complement each other’s game. We’ve got no doubt moving forward we’re going to get even better.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.