As one would expect with any great of the game, Lance Franklin has tormented every opposition club at some stage of his storied 301-game career. But there is no club with which he has toyed more than Essendon, against whom he has kicked 70 goals in 16 games, more than any of the AFL’s 17 other clubs.
So it is just the Bombers’ luck then that Franklin, having been rested from Sydney’s round two win over Richmond, returns to play for the Swans in Thursday night’s round four opener at the SCG.
To be fair, Franklin had more success against the Bombers during his Hawthorn days than he has against the Dons since becoming a Swan at the end of 2013.
When playing for the Hawks, Franklin booted 50 goals from his 10 matches against Essendon. That’s tailed off somewhat in the Harbour City, with Franklin kicking 20 goals in six matches against the Bombers since the move, at still more than three per game.
In any case, Franklin remains a focus and a key danger for any opposition, even at 34.
Not that the Swans have been overly reliant on Franklin so far in 2021. To the contrary, they knocked off flag fancies the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba and thrashed reigning premiers Richmond at the MCG in Franklin’s absence.
Historically Cale Hooker has battled – often in vain – against Franklin, but the veteran Bomber booted five goals against St Kilda on Saturday and Dons coach Ben Rutten said Hooker would remain forward for the time being, with Peter Wright to play in the ruck in the absence of the injured Sam Draper.
“He will stay forward,” Rutten said of Hooker.