Ex-Sydney player and assistant coach Rhyce Shaw has come out in support of his former teammate Lance Franklin, saying the All Australian captain is capable of playing out the remaining four years of his contract.
There has been speculation as to how long Franklin would play ever since he signed the previously unheard of nine-year contract that lured him away from Hawthorn at the end of 2013.
Nagging injuries over the past couple of years, plus rumours of the effect his huge contract has had on the rest of the playing list, has many questioning whether the four-time Coleman medallist will still be at the Swans in 2022, the last year of his contract.
“I honestly believe he’ll see it out,” Shaw told Macquarie Sports Radio on Monday.
“He only trains 20 minutes a season so he should be right.
“Athletically we all know he’s one of the most gifted players we’ve seen in the game, but to play through the injuries and stuff that he plays through I could certainly see him playing through the next four years.
“He might end up in ‘the cage’ in the last two years, standing in the goalsquare, but I reckon that’d be worth it.”
Franklin will be 35 when his current deal at Sydney ends.
He finished fourth in this year’s Coleman race after missing three matches through injury, sharing the league’s best goal-scoring average of 3.0 a game with West Coast star Josh Kennedy and equalling Jack Riewoldt’s league-leading 100 scoring shots for the 2018 season.
Since Franklin pulled on a Sydney jumper the Swans have played in two Grand Finals but not won a premiership, with many now thinking the superstar full forward may be more of a distraction than a positive.
Buddy was far and away Sydney’s leading target when attacking in 2018, starving his fellow forwards of opportunity, especially with his desire and ability to move all over the ground rather than remain in certain zones where crumbers can predict where the ball will fall.
His back-ended contract is also believed to be playing a big part in the Swan’s current salary cap squeeze, and rumoured to have upset teammates who are starting to entertain leaving in search of better deals.