Three years into a $10 million, nine-season AFL deal that many had argued was over the odds, it’s now not a stretch to say Lance Franklin is proving good value for Sydney.
One of the code’s best paid players, 29-year-old Franklin will on Saturday turn out in his second grand final for Sydney.
His two goals against Geelong last Friday took him to 80 for the campaign, eclipsing his previous best in a season for Sydney of 79 in 2014.
Three more goals in Saturday’s grand final and Franklin will surpass his second best season for Hawthorn of 82 set in 2011.
He has kicked almost three times as many goals than any other Swan this year with his next five highest teammates bagging between 24 and 29.
But it’s not just the quantity of goals, especially the breathtaking long-distance efforts, which have made Buddy a smart investment for Sydney.
He has been lauded by coaches and teammates for his tackling and chasing efforts in pressuring defenders and for providing leadership to a forward line, which Ben McGlynn and Franklin apart, lacks experience.
Franklin’s towering influence was evident in Sydney’s blistering start against Geelong and his on-field presence alone, irrespective of any scoring feats, lifts his teammates.
“Having Bud on your side is a good feeling,” Swans’ defender Nick Smith told the Seven Network on Sunday.
“He gives the group a lot of confidence and we’ve got a lot of first-year guys and he really steers them around.
“Just walking out with him knowing he can do the things he does definitely gives us a lot of confidence.”
A decent Franklin goal haul hasn’t always guaranteed Sydney a win this year.
They lost matches against Richmond and grand final opponent, the Western Bulldogs despite five-goal hauls from their star forward, and went down to Adelaide on a night when he bagged four majors.
During his AFL career he has played in four grand finals for two wins and two losses and his biggest goal hauls in season deciders came in the two defeats.
THE BIG GOAL NUMBERS FOR LANCE FRANKLIN
*Biggest season hauls : 113 (Haw, 2008), 82 (Haw 2011), 80 (Syd 2016), 79 (Syd, 2014)
*RECORD IN GRAND FINALS: Four games, ten goals
GOALKICKING RETURNS IN GRAND FINALS
*2014: 4.2 (Syd V Haw)
*2012: 3.4 (Haw V Syd)
*2008: 2.1 (Haw V Geel)
*2013: 1.1 (Haw V Fre)