Sydney’s Coleman Medal leader Lance Franklin is thrilling AFL followers with his long range goalkicking, but it’s his long distance chasing which has caught the eye of Swans’ coach John Longmire.
Franklin leads the league with 40 goals, several of them trademark booming kicks from around the 50-metre mark.
In an era in which coaches seem to value pressure acts from their forwards as much as quantity of goals, Franklin delighted his coach with his defensive efforts against North Melbourne last weekends
Franklin pulled of a season personal best six tackles in the Swans’ win over the previously unbeaten Kangaroos.
“I love his ability to be able to bring others into the game and his chases on the weekend, some 30 to 40 metre long chase downs,” Longmire said.
“That’s what really matters internally to us, the way he’s going about his business.
“How consistent he’s been has been a real credit to him.”
Ruckman-forward Kurt Tippett is another impact player whose consistency over the first ten rounds has earned Longmire’s praise.
“He’s had a great year so far,” Longmire said.
“His ability to get his hand on it in the ruck and also to reduce the opposing ruckman’s effectiveness around the ground has been really important for us.”
A laconic Longmire gave short shrift to the news second-placed Sydney was now regarded in some quarters as the premiership favourite following their win over the Kangaroos.
“I looked at the calendar this morning, it’s still May and we’re one game off seventh,” Longmire said.
“I just look at the facts, they are the facts.”
He was even more dismissive about former Swans’ defender Tadhg Kennelly’s assertion that the premiership was Sydney’s to lose.
“It’s just irrelevant to us, it’s not relevant at all,” Longmire said.
The imminent return of several injured Gold Coast players has Longmire wary of next Saturday’s away game against the Suns, who have lost seven straight, the last five by 70 or more points.
“I think (Suns’ coach) Rodney (Eade) said after the game (last weekend) they could have up to nine players returning, of which five could come straight into the senior team,” Longmire said
“So it’s going to be a completely different Gold Coast this week.”