Hodgey goes whack!
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Lance Franklin’s recently-painted mural in Sydney is accompanied by a few words: ‘one of the greats, or the greatest?’.
It is a question that will trigger debate as fans walk down Flinders St to the SCG on Friday night for the start of Indigenous round, when the Swans host Carlton in what Franklin considers the highlight of the AFL fixture.
Franklin continues to tick off milestones for fun and now sits ninth on the AFL’s all-time list of goal-kickers with 882, so many of them truly spectacular.
The 31-year-old is already regarded as the sport’s greatest Indigenous footballer ever by many good judges.
Franklin’s competition on that front includes two Swans, dual Brownlow medallist Adam Goodes and fellow 300-gamer Michael O’Loughlin.
“Franklin’s not bad but I think Mick O’Loughlin probably rates himself the best. If you ask Mick he’d certainly be rating himself the best, with Goodes and Franklin fighting it out for second spot,” Swans coach John Longmire told reporters on Monday.
“I’m not going to get involved with that.
“We’ve been blessed that we’ve had some of the best Indigenous players that have ever played the game. All three have made an amazing contribution, still do, to our footy club.
“Mick and Adam were in last week. We were fortunate enough to have a really close relationship with those guys … and they still keep on giving to the footy club.”
Longmire noted Franklin’s spectacular goals and game-breaking runs detail only part of his legend.
“What he does with our younger players is so important,” he said of the forward’s mentorship.
“He’s got a great understanding of the game.”
Approaching the halfway point of an unprecedented nine-year deal with Sydney, retirement will be some time away for Franklin if all goes to plan.
But if seeking life-after-football advice, Franklin has two mentors capable of dispensing plenty in Goodes and O’Loughlin.
The pair founded the Goodes-O’Loughlin (GO) foundation in 2009, seeking to empower Indigenous youth through education.
Franklin, a softly-spoken and shy superstar when in front of the cameras, helped shape the Swans’ most recent Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and has spoken in the past about wanting to grow into his role as an Indigenous role model.
O’Loughlin also has plenty of coaching cred on his resume, a path that Franklin could easily head down according to many teammates.
“Hopefully that’s still a few years away,” Longmire said of Franklin.
“He’s actually a real footy head, he watches a lot of it. When you ask questions of him or speak about the game, he knows.
“He’s also got a real eye for talent.”