Buddy Franklin in alarming reveal from Swans coach John Longmire

After facing calls for Buddy Franklin to retire, the Swans have revealed exactly why the superstar forward has been so off his game.

John Longmire and Buddy Franklin.
Sydney Swans coach John Longmire has backed Buddy Franklin to get back to his best, after revealing the star forward was bedridden with an illness before last weekend's loss. Pictures: Getty Images

It's been a painful AFL season thus far for the Sydney Swans and it shows few signs of improving in the short term, as the club battles a growing injury list. So dire is the situation, coach John Longmire says, the club was all but forced to select a 'really sick' Buddy Franklin against Fremantle last week.

Franklin turned in arguably one of the worst performances of his career as the Swans fell to the Dockers at the SCG, but his apparently poor health might explain the surprisingly muted performance from the 347-game veteran. Held goalless in consecutive games for the first time in 10 years, Franklin was 'bed-ridden' just hours before the game, Longmire said.

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After picking up just four disposals against Fremantle, Franklin and the Swans have faced calls for them to announce his retirement from the game at the end of the season. However Longmire has rejected those calls, while accepting that the 36-year-old is no longer quite the player he once was.

The veteran coach praised Franklin's commitment to the side, revealing just how bad Franklin's condition had been prior to him deciding to play. The star forward is three matches away from his 350th AFL match.

"I spoke to him Friday afternoon at 4.30 and he had spent all day in bed, he wasn't going to play," Longmire said. "And just because of the competitor he is, and knowing that we didn't have any other options, he said, 'I'd like to play'."

Franklin's decision to play opened the door for the Swans to play Aaron Francis in their backline, with the likes of Tom McCartin, Paddy McCartin and Dane Rampe all on the Swans' injury list. Longmore said the Swans' VFL team was left without anyone taller than 180cm in their forward line thanks to the injury crisis at the club.

"His ability to be able to play like he did 10 years ago, I think everyone has to sit back and just understand that that's not the case. The expectations have to be adjusted," Longmire said.

"He knows that we need him out there, and we love him at his very, very, very best. But there's also an understanding that whatever he can give us is something that we're really fortunate to have.

"And our team sports, to be able to have a player like Lance be able to get out there and give us whatever he's got, and understanding that whatever he's got, is a real bonus for us. The realistic opportunity for us at the moment is we need him playing and he's doing everything he can to get himself right every week to get out there."

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Marc Sheather (foot), Callum Mills (calf), and Logan McDonald (ankle) are all set to miss this weekend's clash with North Melbourne. The Swans are desperate to get back on the winners' list, and Longmire believes a healthy and fully fit Franklin will be a part of that.

The loss to Freo prompted former St Kilda great Leigh Montagna to suggest the Swans announce that this will be Franklin's last AFL season now, giving fans an opportunity to give the sure-fire Hall of Famer a proper send-off. Franklin announced he had signed a one-year contract extension with the Swans prior to last season's grand final, which the Swans lost to Geelong.

Buddy Franklin is tackled by Fremantle players.
Buddy Franklin has recovered from an illness that hampered him against Fremantle. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

“There’s going to be a lot of noise and a lot of doom and gloom and a lot coming for Buddy and his form, his place in the team … because we can all see he’s really struggling,” Montagna told Fox Footy. “Before the narrative gets too strong and gets too negative about Bud, I would love to see the Sydney Swans and Bud as a combination come out and make an official announcement that this will be his last season and turn the narrative into a celebration.

"Turn it into something where all the fans can celebrate, in my opinion, one of the top five players to have ever played the game. I think he deserves the celebration and the time to have his farewells and for the fans to be able to recognise him.”

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