Buddy rapt to return in AFL

Superstar Lance Franklin never doubted he would return to the AFL despite a mental health issue and is looking forward to playing in Sydney’s opening-round match against Collingwood on Saturday.

Franklin missed the Swans’ 2015 finals campaign because of the issue which he says is ongoing.

“There was never any doubt in my mind I was going to come back. I love playing football, that’s what I love to do,” Franklin said on Monday.

“For me, it was just about getting back on December 1 (for the start of pre-season training) and training as hard as possible and getting my body in the best possible shape for round one and I’m able to do that.

“But now the fun begins, it’s round one.”

Franklin confirmed talk around the club that he was in his best shape heading into a season in Sydney, as he prepares to embark on his third campaign with the Swans.

“Probably it’s been the fittest I’ve been since being up here,” said Franklin, who played in all three of Sydney’s pre-season matches.

“I’ve been able to do most training sessions and the confidence is up leading into the season.”

Asked about dealing with his mental health issue Franklin said “it’s definitely ongoing for me.

“I’ve got that support network around me and that’s the most important thing and I’ve just got to continue to speak to those people around me and get on with it as best I can.”

He praised his partner Jesinta Campbell, the public, the football club and his family for providing him with a support structure.

Although Franklin was used on the ball at times throughout the pre-season, coach John Longmire confirmed his star spearhead would still spend most of his time up forward.

“The majority of Lance’s time he’ll be spending forward, he’ll go into occasional centre bounces as the situation permits or requires at different times,’ Longmire said.

The Swans will go into Saturday’s SCG fixture without co-captain Jarrad McVeigh and key forward Sam Reid, while Longmire said a decision would be made later in the week about whether fullback Ted Richards and midfield-forward Ben McGlynn play in the seniors or reserves.

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