Sydney star Lance Franklin has roared back to AFL form with a dominant performance in their pre-season win over Carlton.
The key forward capped a busy summer campaign with clearly his best game of the NAB Challenge as the Swans won by 22 points on Friday night at Etihad Stadium.
Franklin kicked three goals, took seven marks and had five score assists in the 0.14.7 (91) to 1.8.12 (69) win.
The 29-year-old took an extended break from the game late last season because of mental health issues and missed Sydney’s finals campaign.
Unusually for such a prominent player, Franklin has been on the field for nearly all their intra-club and NAB Challenge hitouts.
But the Swans felt he needed the work and on Friday night, Franklin reaped the benefits.
It was a telling moment in his comeback to the game.
“He played a pretty good game tonight,” coach John Longmire said.
“He’s had a good pre-season, he ran well, there’s probably a couple of marks he missed, in the end he could have had an even bigger night.
“I just thought the signs with him tonight looked pretty good. He’ll get better, no doubt.”
The Swans have experimented in the past few weeks with Franklin in the midfield, but against Carlton he played his usual key forward role.
“We’ve had a couple of discussions about it as coaches,” Longmire said.
“I always put the opposition coach’s hat on – where would you like him? Probably out of the forward 50.”
After Franklin’s well-documented challenges, Longmire said the team was just happy to have him back and working so well.
“He’s done everything, he’s done much more than he’s ever done,” Longmire said.
Swans midfielder Dan Hannebery was best afield with 37 possessions.
Josh Kennedy finished the game with an ice pack on his calf, which Longmire said was not unusual.
But Zac Jones also hurt his knee.
While Carlton are winless after the pre-season, there were also plenty of positives for them on Friday night.
After Sydney romped to a 39-point lead in the second term, the Blues turned the game around impressively.
Patrick Cripps and Sam Kerridge, who kicked three goals, stood out.
No.1 draft pick Jacob Weitering went onto Franklin briefly in the third term and spoiled him twice.
Weitering is a lock for their round-one Easter Thursday blockbuster against Richmond.