Lance Franklin is seemingly relaxed ahead of his 350th career game at the SCG this Thursday night.
The star forward predicts plenty of commentary around his latest milestone but wants a “low key” week in preparation.
Now in his 19th season of the AFL (and 10th for the Sydney Swans) it seems the secret to Buddy’s long career is keeping it simple.
Speaking to Sydney Swans Media, Franklin credits genetics, a little bit of luck and fun, to his two decades of football.
“The biggest thing throughout my journey is that I’ve kept things pretty simple,” Franklin says from Sydney Swans HQ in Moore Park.
On March 27, 2005, Franklin made his AFL debut at age 18 with Hawthorn at the SCG. In his fourth season with the Hawks and at 21 years-of-age he went on to kick his 100th goal in a season.
Little did Franklin know that 14 years later he’d go on to recreate similar scenes to the mass pitch invasion at the then-Telstra Dome, when he kicked his 1000th goal at the SCG while at the Swans. The “greatest showman” he was dubbed.
Indeed, Buddy’s career has been defined by record-breaking milestones. He currently sits fourth on the ladder for most career goals with 1057 and lies in the top 20 for most games played ever. Not to mention a career average 14.9 disposals, 3 goals and 2.5 tackles per game.
At 36 and with two decades of experience in his arsenal, Franklin’s role at the Sydney Swans is now less about dominating the game than it is about leading the next generation of key forwards.
“I’ve never been about kicking the goals, that’s not my goal. You still want to impact games as much as possible, there’s no doubt about that,” he says. “But I’m more so conscious of where I sit too.
“We’ve got a lot of young boys coming through that are ready to take over the club and I’m here to guide them and make sure that when I do hang up the boots, those boys are ready to go.”
Franklin named the likes of Logan McDonald, Joel Amartey and Hayden McLean as rising stars of the Swans, noting they all have “bright futures” ahead.
“I think especially these last couple of years, coming towards the back end of my career, I just want to make sure that I’m helping these younger guys come through as much as possible.”
After nine years with Hawthorn, Franklin made the move to Sydney where he has continued his extraordinary career in the red and white. The No. 23 said there was no doubt he’d carry out the nine-year contract (now on a one-year extension) in which he forged a close bond with senior coach John Longmire.
“The way he builds relationships with everyone at the club - whether you’re a first-year player or played for 19 years - all the boys want to play for him, that’s for sure.”
His praise for Horse is not dissimilar to that for Sydney, a club which he says he admired during his tenure at Hawthorn.
“When I was watching on from the Hawks you could see this was a club that fights to the death.
“That’s part of the reason I came to this club.”
The Swans will clash with St Kilda on Thursday night for Franklin’s 350th game (his fifth milestone game against the Saints), which also marks Pride Game at the SCG.
With just 12 games left of the 2023 AFL season it’s unsurprising that Franklin is keeping things simple. What does that look like?
“Just really enjoying it.
“To reach 350 games in AFL football is an enormous achievement. To play 50 games is a huge achievement, 100 games, 150. To become a life member at two footy clubs is something very special to me and I’m very proud of it.”
Witness history as Buddy plays his 350th game at the SCG this Thursday night. Don't miss out - purchase tickets below.