Buddy inspires with early return

Buddy inspires with early return

NOW the oldest player on Sydney’s list, a lighter, leaner Lance Franklin has sent a strong message to the AFL club’s new breed.

Franklin, who turns 33 in January, already had two weeks of voluntary training under his belt as Sydney’s other senior players returned to begin their pre-season on Monday.

The star key forward played his 300th game in last season’s final round after being limited to just 10 games in 2019.

But he’s shaping to start the seventh season of his nine-year mega-contract with the Swans in the best condition he’s been in years.

Coach John Longmire says Franklin has provided a valuable lesson to club’s many young players after the club lost 1048 games of experience when Jarrad McVeigh, Kieren Jack, Heath Grundy and Nick Smith retired.

“He is a real competitor,” Longmire said of Franklin.

“He knows that this time of year is really important for him to get a good base and so far he’s been able to do that.

“He understands his footy as good as anyone, he understands we’ve lost a lot of experience as far as games that walked out the door last year.

“He also really enjoys being around the younger players and helping them out.

“He really enjoys training with the younger players and he saw it as an opportunity to up his program and that’s a really positive message to not only give to himself but also the other players.”

Franklin underwent minor surgery on his ankle and glute in the off-season and will need to be managed after playing just 29 games over the past two seasons while battling soft tissue injuries.

He has been running for the past fortnight, while steadily building strength with a modified program.

Longmire expects Franklin to be ready to return to full training before Christmas.

After missing the finals for the first time since 2009, this is the earliest the Swans have begun pre-season training in a decade.

© AAP 2019