Buddy joins new-look Swans leadership group
Lance Franklin has won almost everything the game has to offer but he's added one of the few missing pieces after being elevated to the Swans' leadership group for the first time.
The 32-year-old, now the most senior figure in John Longmire's squad, will be joined by Callum Mills in a new-look structure for 2020 that retains Josh Kennedy, Luke Parker and Dane Rampe as the co-captains.
In 300 games so far Franklin has claimed two premierships, was All-Australian captain in 2018 (and named in the side on eight different occasions), secured four Coleman medals and been the leading goalscorer for both Hawthorn and the Swans on numerous occasions.
But this is a welcome ''first''.
The players themselves decide on the leaders and they felt it was time all Franklin's ''unofficial'' leadership work was recognised. The club's youngsters, especially the forwards over the last 12 months, have spoken about the support and guidance willingly offered by Franklin.
"It's the first time I've been involved in the leadership group and I'm really excited by it," he told The Daily Telegraph. "It's always nice to be recognised by your peers. The goal is to be the best leader I can possibly be."
Not that Franklin will change the way he goes about his business. Title or no title, he says he has always believed in the importance of helping others.
So what is leadership for Franklin?
"Leading by example with the way I go about my business on the field and leading by example off the field too," he said.
"With such a young group we've got at the moment it's a really important time for us. With the other four guys we've got in this leadership group we've got a really strong group to lead the boys. You don't want all the same personalities, you need different guys in there with different views."
Franklin certainly made an instant impression on the new crop of Swans draftees recently when they landed at Sydney Airport to find Franklin ready to provide a welcome chauffeur service. No fanfare, no fuss.
"Lance has been elevated by the players in recognition of the huge investment he has made in the team. I've no doubt he will be a valuable addition to our leadership group," Longmire said.
"Josh, Luke and Dane did a wonderful job as co-captains in 2019, so we were keen to continue with that structure. They're all outstanding leaders who drive high standards. We have a number of emerging leaders across the team, and so while we have reduced the leadership group from eight members to five, opportunities and responsibilities will continue to present for others".
It was svelte-looking Franklin who returned to the training track last month. But there's a simple explanation, according to the man himself.
"Being able to train," he smiles. "I haven't been able to train these last couple of years and it's key, you get fit when you're able to train."
Mills, 22, is delighted Franklin will take on a more formal role.
"He's a great leader. He's probably one of our most influential people on the ground every weekend. He deserves to be in the leadership group and can't wait to get started," he said.
"It's a real honour (for me) to be acknowledged by your peers as a leader around the place. It's something you don't take for granted. But it's 22 people that get the job done. It's important everybody steps up."