John Longmire was stunned by a journalist’s question, before revealing Lance Franklin would not play in Round One.
Sydney Swans coach John Longmire says he is “fascinated” at the hype that has surrounded superstar forward Lance Franklin’s fitness in his injury-plagued recent years.
Longmire today told reporters after the Swans’ pre-season loss to the GWS Giants that Franklin would not feature in Sydney’s Round One clash with the Brisbane Lions.
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Soft-tissue injuries limited the 944-goal great to 19 games in 2018, 10 in 2019 and zero in 2020.
And while the Swans had hoped a long-term core-strengthening program would have Franklin raring-hot for season 2021, the four-time Coleman medallist was dealt another crushing blow when he strained his calf at training in January.
When prompted on whether Franklin would be ready for Sydney’s season-opening match on March 20, Longmire said the footy world’s obsession with the $10 million Swan baffled him.
“Lance won’t play Round One. He’ll play when he’s ready to play. Hopefully if he continues the way he’s going it’ll be pretty early, but it won’t be Round One,” Longmire said after Sydney’s 18.6 (114) to 12.14 (86) defeat.
“Everyone gets caught up this time of the year about it. Fascinates me. It’s one game. It’s an important game, but it’s not the only game of the year.
“If it’s Round Two, Round Three, whenever it is he’ll come in and play.
“Hopefully everyone understands that we’ve got to get him right for the whole season. And that means that he mightn’t play every game for the season. That’s okay too. We just work through it.”
Franklin is in the second-last year of his unprecedented nine-year, $10 million contract, which he landed after nine years with Hawthorn.
His absence for Round One has boosted the debut hopes of highly touted key forward Logan McDonald, who Sydney selected with pick four in the 2020 national draft.
The Western Australian impressed in his first official match in red and white, kicking a booming set-shot goal with his first touch and hauling down two magnificent pack marks.
Six members of Sydney’s current squad debuted in the opening round of their first AFL season: Harry Cunningham, Isaac Heeney, Tom Papley, Callum Mills, Oliver Florent and Nick Blakey.
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