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Sydney Swans coach responds to Buddy Franklin claims after shock call from AFL legend

John Longmire has addressed the situation after Leigh Matthews went public with an eye-opening claim.

John Longmire has rejected sensational claims the Sydney Swans "grew tired" of Buddy Franklin in his final AFL season and were keen to move the veteran forward on. AFL legend Leigh Matthews made brutal comments last weekend that the Swans are "better off" without Franklin, while journalist Tom Morris suggested the 37-year-old had worn out his welcome in Sydney.

Franklin retired after suffering a calf injury towards the end of the 2023 regular season, and watched on from the sidelines as the Swans surged into the finals without him. They've started 2-0 in 2024 and don't appear to be missing his influence at all.

John Longmire, pictured here alongside Buddy Franklin and his family.
John Longmire has rejected the ugly claims about Buddy Franklin. Image: Getty

“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.”

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But according to Swans coach Longmire, that's not the case at all. "We hadn't had enough of Lance," Longmire said when asked about the reports on Tuesday. "Lance has been one of the most popular players we've had at this football club, and certainly one of the best players I've ever coached.

"He was a super player for us and I had a great relationship with him which I will always treasure. His ability to contribute to our footy club, on and off the field, was absolutely significant. He was 36 (when he retired). You know, strangely enough you get to the stage where you go and do other things."

Buddy Franklin, pictured here with his family at the SCG after his retirement.
Buddy Franklin with his family at the SCG after his retirement. (via Getty Images)

Leigh Matthews says Swans 'better off' without Buddy Franklin

Matthews said it was "sacrilegious" to suggest, but declared: "The Swans are better without Buddy Franklin. 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.”

John Longmire highlights Buddy Franklin effect on Swans

But Longmire was quick to highlight the effect that Buddy had on a number of young guns at the club, who are now thriving. "He's not a bad player Lance Franklin," Longmire said. "He wasn't a bad one to help us through for a fair while and so I've got the greatest respect for him.

"One of his great legacies ... (was) his ability to be a star player and win us games but the other part was he allowed our younger key forwards to come through. The natural progression of young key forwards is a bit different than young midfielders.

"Lance was able to take the key defenders from the opposition for so long and allow those younger key forwards like Logan and Joel to come through and develop physically. His last year or two was as much about that as what he was able to deliver for us winning games. His legacy at this footy club is far-reaching."

with AAP