Lance Franklin is locked in for his long-awaited AFL comeback after Sydney Swans coach John Longmire confirmed the superstar forward will be picked to face Adelaide at the SCG on Saturday.
Franklin played his first competitive minutes in more than 18 months on Sunday morning in a reserves scratch match against Greater Western Sydney and came through unscathed.
Lance Franklin played his first competitive minutes in 18 months on Sunday, and has been cleared to make his AFL comeback this weekend.Credit:Edwina Pickles
Franklin didn’t play a single game last year because of repeated soft-tissue injuries and hit a fresh hurdle over the summer with a calf issue, which ruled him out of Sydney’s season-opening 31-point win over the Lions.
Longmire warned that Franklin won’t be used for every Swans match this season, and will have his game time carefully managed against the Crows given the AFL’s return to normal-length quarters and the faster, expansive style that has been encouraged by recent rule changes.
“We’re confident that he’s done a fair bit of work but there’s nothing like playing,” Longmire said.
“It’s a quarter up on what they did last year and a pretty solid game style that’s running around at the moment from all teams. It’s up and back a lot.
“We’ll work through that but what we know is he definitely won’t play every week. We’ve had a basic framework around the plan to get him to this point. Last August, really, it started to get the strength work into him, he did a lot of work in the hub to get nice and strong. He trained right through the break, through Christmas.
“We need to make sure that that continues. That’ll be decided from week to week. But we’ll put it out there right now – he won’t be playing every week, even if he does go well and feels good. We need to make sure that his strength program, his training program is at the level that’s required to be able to maintain that performance on a weekly basis.”
Franklin’s presence should guarantee a bumper crowd at the SCG, which will be at 75 per cent of its capacity – around 36,000 – on Saturday for Sydney’s first home game of the year, and their first at Moore Park since July.
The last time the Swans pulled a crowd of that magnitude, Franklin booted four goals in his 300th AFL match, which also served as an emotional farewell for club legends Jarrad McVeigh and Kieren Jack.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to get back here,” Longmire said.
“It was great to get in front of a crowd again on the weekend up in Brisbane and great to get back here at the SCG on a Saturday afternoon and play on our home deck. It’s something our players have been looking forward to for quite a while, to get out there and hopefully play in front of a big crowd.”
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