Rugby League

AFL: The Lance Franklin effect

Lance Franklin has joined the Sydney Swans (©GettyImages)
Lance Franklin has joined the Sydney Swans (©GettyImages).

The AFL world has been dominated by one headline this week after Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin completed his shock mega-move to the Sydney Swans from Hawthorn.

Arguably the game’s biggest attraction, the superstar forward was introduced in his new red and white colours, for the first time, in front of an adoring public on Wednesday
morning.

That nature of the deal, with The Swans swooping in at the last minute with a nine-year, $10m deal has sent shockwaves through the competition, but where does it leave those involved?

Buddy Franklin:

Buddy Franklin has long been one of the elite players in the AFL. A dual Premiership player with Hawthorn, he has won two Coleman medals and four All-Australian selections in his career to date.

As a poster boy for the AFL, his off field discretions have often been well documented. Although Franklin has been quick to deny such a suggestion, his management have claimed the star wanted to leave the ‘fishbowl’ of living in the footy mad Melbourne.

Manager Liam Pickering making reference to the scrutiny placed upon Franklin by the media after he lost his driver’s licence and was later involved in a car accident last year.

In footy terms, Franklin has spoken of his ambition to win more Premierships, and with Franklin in their ranks the Swans now possess one of the elite forward lines in the competition.

Alongside fellow Indigenous superstar Adam Goodes and power forward Kurt Tippett, the Swans are well placed to mount a serious tilt for a second flag in three seasons in 2014. Buddy may just get the instant success he so craves.

The Sydney Swans:

Any side that acquires a player of the quality of Buddy Franklin will be substantially strengthened, but it is the nature of the contract that has many people questioning.

It is rare for a key position player to play into their mid-thirties, and by the end of Franklins nine year deal he will be 35.

If Franklin retires before the end of his contract, his wage will still be accountable to the Swans salary cap, further highlighting the risk the club have taken.

Swans coach John Longmire has argued that, whilst nine year deals may be rare, so is the opportunity to lure a player of Franklin’s undoubted quality.

The Swans will hope their latest big signing can elevate the club in a similar way to legends Tony Lockett and Barry Hall, the latter of whom captained the club to their inaugural Premiership in 2005. Time will tell whether Franklin can lift the club to those heights once again.

Hawthorn:

Since Franklin decided to postpone contract talks ahead of the 2013 season, it’s almost been that the Hawthorn management have been preparing for life post-Buddy.

Their leading goal kicker from 2007-2012, the 2013 season saw a notable shift in the Hawks reliance on their star forward, exploring different avenues to the goals.

The shared responsibility worked perfectly for Hawthorn as they secured their 11th Premiership, Jarryd Roughead took home the Coleman medal as the competitions leading goal kicker whilst youngsters Luke Breust and Jack Gunston stepped up significantly, the latter booting four goals in the Grand Final win over Freemantle.

The departure of Franklin leaves room to manoeuvre in the trade period for the Hawks, with space freed in their salary cap to become more competitive in their recruitment.

Whilst the management at Hawthorn were disappointed with Buddy’s decision to leave after a
stellar season for the club, a Franklin-less Hawthorn still remain one of the elite sides in the competition, and serious contenders for the flag in 2014.

Greater Western Sydney Giants:

Ever since the Lance Franklin saga began in early 2013, Greater Western Sydney was muted as the most likely destination for the superstar.

Backed by their expansion resources and cost of living allowance, The Giants tabled a massive offer to Franklin and his management in an attempt to entice him to become the face of
the AFL’s newest club.

With Franklin turning his back on the offer and joining cross-town rivals The Sydney Swans in his desire for ‘instant success’, the Giants have been left looking to plan B.

They are likely to make a play for likely number one draft pick Tom Boyd, to add to their young power forward line already containing Jonathan Patton and All-Australian selected Jeremy Cameron.

The Giants will remain major players in the trade and draft period, with the
resources planned to lure Buddy Franklin set to be offered elsewhere.

The AFL:

The decision of Lance Franklin to defect to The Sydney Swans from Hawthorn has both pros and cons for the AFL and its hierarchy.

The size of the package offered to Franklin has left many Victorian-based clubs angry, with the controversial cost of living allowance (COLA), given to the Sydney based clubs to compensate
for the significantly higher living costs of the Harbour City.

The figure currently stands at 9.8%. The Melbourne based clubs want the agreement scrapped, whilst those in Sydney claim it is essential in order for them to remain competitive.

With equalisation a key ambition for those in charge of the AFL, a decision will have to be made on the COLA ruling to satisfy the whole competition.

The Franklin move has the potential to be a competition wide positive. Australian Rules has long been dominated by Melbourne-based clubs, with the AFL taking a back seat further north.

In Buddy Franklin, Sydney now possess a true superstar in the AFL code, a man with mass appeal who’s status can reach out and bring the competition a whole herd of new followers.

With his good looks and possessing arguably the game’s most exciting all-round talent, Franklin has the potential to expand the AFL competitions prominence nationwide, and establish himself alongside icons such as Australian Cricket captain Michael Clarke and NRL star Greg Inglis as a true star of Australian sport.


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