Leigh Matthews cuts down Buddy Franklin in 'sacrilegious' claim about AFL champion

The AFL legend has gone public with claims many were already thinking.

Leigh Matthews has made the stunning call that Sydney are better without Buddy Franklin. The Swans thumped Collingwood by 33 points on Friday night for back-to-back wins to start the AFL season.

John Longmire's men have looked sensational in wins over the Demons and Magpies, despite missing some key personnel in the midfield. They're also without talismanic forward Franklin, who retired from the AFL last year.

Franklin decided to call it quits after suffering a calf injury towards the end of the regular season, and the Swans then surged into the finals in his absence. They clearly haven't missed him so far in 2024, leading Matthews to suggest they're better off without him.

Leigh Matthews reckons the Sydney Swans are better off without Buddy Franklin. Image: Getty
Leigh Matthews reckons the Sydney Swans are better off without Buddy Franklin. Image: Getty

“I think it’s almost sacrilegious to declare that the Swans are better without Buddy Franklin,” Matthews said on Channel 9 over the weekend. “You are talking the veteran Buddy Franklin, the 36-year-old, but him retiring and going out of the Swans team means they have a big chunk of salary cap money, which enabled them to get Brodie Grundy.

“So I reckon minus Buddy, plus Grundy, is making the Swans a better team. They have stayed up around the mark for most of this century, the Swans. Their list management has been outstanding.

"I think the Grundy thing just sort of happened, but the fact that Buddy’s career had come to the end and they had the money to pay Brodie Grundy, who is not a superstar ruckman, but he is a really competitive one who helps at ground level. He is not that great in the air, okay at the hit outs, doesn’t mark the ball much, but gets in after the ball at ground level which helps the whole Swans’ clearance game. I think the Swans are better off for Brodie in and Buddy out.”

Brodie Grundy in action for the Swans.
Brodie Grundy has started the year vey strongly for the Sydney Swans.


Sydney Swans 'had enough' of Buddy Franklin in final season

Journalist Tom Morris then made explosive claims that Swans heirarchy had "had enough" of Franklin in his final season. “The Swans would never say this publicly because Buddy was so good for them for so long, but make no mistake, the Swans had had enough of Buddy last year,” Morris said. “They were ready to move on from Buddy last year and the fact that he retired without a press conference makes me think he was done with the Swans as well. It was time to part ways.”

Buddy Franklin, pictured here with his wife and kids.
Buddy Franklin with his family during a ceremony at the SCG after his retirement.

As Morris pointed out, Franklin didn't attend his own retirement press conference last year, with Lomgmire and CEO Tom Harley fronting the media instead. Longmire said at the time that Franklin was 'devastated' and simply trying to avoid the fanfare and limelight.

Speaking after the Swans' win over Collingwood, Longmire highlighted how Franklin has helped Sydney's young forwards thrive. “Young key forwards find it hard against Steven May and Darcy Moore and these guys," the coach said. "They find it hard when they’re just getting bigger and stronger and they’re just growing. So it was really important for Lance to be able to take those best defenders there for as long as he did and allow the natural growth of these young forwards to come through.”