The Sydney Swans are better off without Buddy Franklin - at least according to former AFL premiership player Kane Cornes, who says the Swans are too predictable with the 36-year-old in the side. Despite the Swans sitting in the top four, Cornes found support in Matthew Lloyd, who also said Swans coach John Longmire needed to emphasis the concept of playing a role in an overall system rather than being a potentially game-breaking individual.
Franklin booted three goals against the GWS Giants last weekend, but it wasn't enough to stop the cross-town rivals from seizing a memorable win, courtesy of a Toby Greene goal at the death. Though it was just the second loss of the season for the Swans, Cornes nonetheless said it was crucial for the side to become less reliant on the veteran goalkicker.
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Cornes suggested Franklin's place in the side would be more precarious were it not for a rash of injuries for the Swans, saying Longmire's biggest challenge this season would be managing the twilight of Franklin's career. Franklin extended his contract by a year in the wake of the 2022 grand final defeat.
" I reckon it's one of John Longmire's biggest challenges - how to deal with the back end of Buddy's career," Cornes told the Sunday Footy Show. "They have to play him at the moment because of the injuries they've got, but I think the stats would show how much more unpredictable they are when he doesn't play. I think they are a better team right now when he doesn't play.
"(They went) 20 times inside 50, 13 of them go to Franklin. You want to make sure we celebrate him on the way out. He's going to be a legend in the Australian Football Hall of Fame, but for the now when Sydney's season is slipping away, I think it's a big challenge for the coaching structure how they deal with it. "
Lloyd agreed, saying it was important that Longmire ensured Franklin's gravity in the forward line, perhaps justified after kicking over 1000 career goals, wasn't being a detriment to their scoring attempts. The Swans are at a crossroads after seven games, with three wins and four losses.
"It's about John (Longmire) being strong enough to talk to Buddy around, 'You're not the player you were, we don't expect you to be the player you were, but you've got to be a part of our system, not the whole system'," Lloyd said. "I think that's the issue, when they see Buddy, they kick it to him every time and he's not going to win games like he used to."
— Footy on Nine (@FootyonNine) April 30, 2023
Sydney Swans at crossroads after GWS Giants pull off comeback
It was a spiteful clash between the rival Sydney teams, but it was the Giants who surged back from as many as four goals behind in the final quarter to steal a memorable victory. Giants captain Toby Green was the quickest to react when the ball fell free after a throw-in deep in the forward pocket, but needed the composure to get it to his boot for the major that sealed the stirring 17.5 (107) to 16.10 (106) comeback win.
The Swans' dashing halfback Ollie Florent was a curious match-up on Greene for much of the contest and was mostly able to nullify the Giants' dangerman near goal.
Greene still finished with four goals and had just as much impact further afield to gather 22 disposals and earn the Brett Kirk Medal for best on ground in the Sydney Derby.
"His ability to win the ball in contest is elite," Giants coach Adam Kingsley said. "When you go through all the elite players in the league, they all win contests.
"His ability to do that, in critical moments also, is as good as anyone."
Stephen Coniglio (28 disposals, two goals) and Harry Perryman (21, three) were superb throughout for the Giants, while Xavier O'Halloran (15, two) and Finn Callaghan (26) were also influential in promising signs for the future. The Giants' (3-4) key forward Jesse Hogan finished with two majors against the Swans' returning key defender Tom McCartin.
Young on-ball bulls Tom Green (31 disposals, 13 tackles) and Chad Warner (29 touches, one goal) were engaged in an enthralling duel in a pointer to a match-up to watch for years to come.
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