In prime condition and winning the battle against his mental demons – Lance Franklin is back.
Franklin was the centre of attention after a standout effort in Sydney’s intraclub match at Henson Park on Friday night.
The superstar forward’s AFL future came into question when he took a sabbatical on the eve of last year’s finals to address his mental health issues.
Playing in a roving centre half-forward role in the intraclub match, Franklin covered plenty of ground and looked fighting fit after a big pre-season.
Asked to cover the entire length of the ground, the three-time Coleman medallist handled the extra running load asked of him by coach John Longmire.
While he managed just one goal, he created plenty of chances and could have had a couple more had his kicking not been offline while on another occasion he looked to be in scoring range but chose to hand it off Isaac Heeney who was better positioned in front of goal.
“He’s done every ounce of pre-season so he’s done an enormous amount of training so you can see that in his ability to run and get across the ground,” Longmire said.
“Tonight he looked really fit and ran really hard.”
Franklin has not played an AFL game since round 23 last year, was a notable absentee from the club’s best and fairest awards night while his fiancee Jesinta Campbell has predicted he will have to deal with his mental health issues for the rest of his life.
He is now likely to play in the Swans’ first NAB Challenge match against Port Adelaide at Blacktown next Saturday and is eyeing a return to the AFL in round one against Collingwood.
“He’s going well, he’s enjoying his training and enjoying his footy and looked really sharp,” Longmire said.