Science, gut feel behind Buddy selections

·3-min read

The Swans are using a mixture of science and gut feel to determine how often Lance Franklin will play, as the superstar forward closes in on the AFL's most coveted statistic.

Franklin kicked three goals in Sydney's win over Essendon on Thursday, lifting him to 950, just 20 behind Jack Titus who is sixth on the all-time goalkicking list.

He is now only 50 majors away from the magic 1000 mark attained by only five players in history.

Injuries stalled Franklin's progress over the last two seasons, limiting him to ten games in 2019 and none last year.

But he has returned in style, kicking bags of three in both of his appearances in a young Swans side that remains undefeated.

After Sydney's hard fought three-point win at the SCG, coach John Longmire would not confirm whether Franklin will play in their next match against GWS.

"It's not an exact science this stuff," Longmire said of the process to determine Franklin's availability on a weekly basis.

"You go with a lot of science behind it and what you need to do and then there's bit of gut feel at the end you need to get right.

"Our medical conditioning guys have been very good with that balance.

"He (Franklin) has done a lot of work but it's ongoing now.

"We've got a few days before next week's game which is a good thing for him.

"As far as playing every week, we'll take it as we see it."

Franklin's final goal on Thursday proved decisive but he didn't have things all his own way and was reasonably well contained.

"He's hard to stop for the whole game in every department but it was very much a team effort to be able to quell Buddy on the whole," Essendon coach Ben Rutten said.

Essendon were the first side to keep Sydney below 100 points this season.

"A big part of their game is being able to get the marks and being able to use the ball by foot, so we tried to be pretty tight on our defence and I think we did that pretty well," Rutten said.

Its Sydney's first 4-0 start since their last premiership year in 2012, but the always pragmatic Longmire refused to get excited.

"You don't sit back and look at the bigger picture, because the game is too hard," Longmire said.

While much of the early focus has been on Sydney's exciting youngsters, it was their veterans who got the job done on Thursday, including Luke Parker, Josh Kennedy, Dane Rampe and Sam Reid.

"The young boys aren't going do it every week and you need to spread the load and those blokes I thought were good tonight, they stood up in that hard slog," Longmire said.

Sydney's night was dampened by Isaac Heeney suffering a broken hand, which Longmire expected to keep him out for three to four weeks pending more examination.

Rutten was proud of the grit and character shown by his side, including youngsters Alec Waterman and Nik Cox, but conceded the Bombers were well beaten in contested possessions.