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To Buddy or not to Buddy: Lance Franklin’s sore shoulder

Franklin’s sore shoulder

Lance “Buddy” Franklin’s recovery program from off-season shoulder surgery is a huge fantasy issue.

Whatever Lance Franklin does is news in footy towns, so it’s no surprise that the Age ran a long AAP story, while the Herald-Sun recorded pronouncements from both the man himself and coach Alistair Clarkson. The key passage, for me, is this one from the Hun story covering Franklin’s comments:

“Over the last four pre-seasons, I’ve basically done nearly everything. This is the first pre-season in which I’ve only done less than 50 per cent,” he said yesterday.

The Hawthorn training reports I have seen, admittedly from Hawk fans, have been dismissive of the effect that the shoulder injury has had on his training load. Most seemed more interested in his thumb injury, which until recently had been protected with a guard, leaving him to do skills work with one hand. This BigFooty report from today is indicative of the mood of training watchers, with statements like “Buddy WAS FULLY INVOLVED and I’ll eat my hat if he isn’t fit now” and this:

Buddy what can I say! But FIT and looks ready. I’d say he’ll be rested NAB but will play a practice match prior to round 1. No doubt at all.

One relevant debate which I am not sure I know the answer to, which was brought up by Chad in the comments of the post-Christmas training report post, was this one:

On the modified pre-season, do you take into consideration how long a player has been in the system for? I would think a player that has done 10 pre-seasons would be less affected by a modified pre-season than a first year player.

With Lance Franklin in 2009, we have an opportunity to test this theory out. I’ve said before that I don’t give much credence to shoulder problems as a rule, as Franklin himself has showed that you can play through such injuries, and even win a Coleman Medal. You can tell by the amount of players who had post-season shoulder surgeries – Jason Porplyzia, Robert Warnock, Joe Anderson, Daniel Pratt, Robbie Tarrant, Ed Lower, Adam Simpson, Chad Cornes, Michael Pettigrew, Peter Burgoyne, Tadhg Kennelly, Heath Grundy, Tom Williams and Jarrad Boumann – that clubs know that it’s safe to delay the procedure until after the games are done for the year. Obviously there are degrees of severity with shoulder injuries, with Sean Rusling requiring a full reconstruction that put him out for the year very early, Adam Hunter being booked in for surgery fairly early, Williams missing a fair few games, plus Porplyzia and Kennelly having their shoulders pop out at the first gentle breeze during games. For the most part, Franklin’s performances weren’t affected by it during 2008.

With Matthew Pavlich on a restricted pre-season, Jonathan Brown having burned a lot of coaches with glowing pre-season reports from 2008 that turned out to be bogus, and Nick Riewoldt a traditionally slow starter, a lot of coaches will be looking at Franklin as a genuine premium forward. My view on this has shifted slightly over the pre-season. Initially, my thought was that the AFL in 2009 would look like the current NFL season. The challenger who shocked the unbackable favourite the year before, as the New York Giants did to the New England Patriots, would then go on to dominate the regular season the next year, as the Giants did in 2008. However, with news that Trent Croad won’t be back until round 5, Xavier Ellis unlikely until midseason, and interrupted preseasons for Robert Campbell, Luke Hodge and Jordan Lewis as well as Franklin, I have dialed back my expectations for the first part of 2009 for the Hawks. I fully expect Hawthorn to get beaten by Geelong in round 1, possibly quite badly. The Hawks’ first four games (Geelong, Sydney, North and Port) are all very losable to teams I expect to contend for the top 8, so anywhere from 2-2 to 0-4 is on the cards. To me, this means that Franklin will struggle to reach his nine shots at goal per game, or if he does get there, those shots will likely be from difficult angles a long way from goal as the Hawks cede the corridor. As the Hawks get fitter in this scenario his fantasy scores will improve, of course, making him an awesome upgrade target for the plethora of forward rookies that everyone will be carrying.

Then again, I have this other theory about Franklin, which is that at the age of 21 he’s still got a lot of improvement left in him. His goalkicking accuracy may be a lost cause, but where I think he could get better is his amount of shots per game. Buddy is a Gary Ablett kind of player (that’s senior, not junior), and like Ablett he could very well push his average shots at goal up from 9 to 11 or beyond, so that instead of averaging a score of 5.4 he can reach 6.5 or 7.5. Of course the game plays a lot different to the way it did in the 1980s, and Franklin would probably have to rotate through the wing in the style of Matthew Richardson (and Ablett senior, let us not forget) to make it happen. Who knows, maybe the four-tall structure that Essendon coach Matthew Knights is toying with will catch on, with Buddy chasing kicks up the ground a lot more like Matthew Lloyd.

In the end, I’m still a little torn. I’m annoyed that I didn’t get on board last year due to the two-strikes rumours, and I’m trying not to let that cloud my thinking this year. How about you, did you enjoy his rise last year, and are you committing to Buddy love in 2009? Tell me in the comments.



  1. dids

    January 10, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    ATM I’ve gone with Pav instead of Buddy, but I’m really not sure who I’ll end up going with.

  2. GoodesStuff

    January 10, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Ive got Buddy. I don’t want Pav and Riewoldt from the start because of the reasons mentioned. But I don’t see any clear replacements. Lids if he is a fwd? Who else is there?

  3. dylan

    January 10, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    i have pav and riewoldt but no buddy. buddy is a pretty high price and he has had a few really low scoring games so i might wait till that happens before i think about going for him

  4. Chad

    January 10, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    I have Pav at the moment, been durable and lower SD I think means less likely to drop. I will get buddy and the voldt, but hoping they have a slow start and cone down in price

  5. Mighty_Bombers

    January 10, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    Buddy is a MUST have he will be in my team thats for sure his to good not to have in your team , Buddy and Pav will be my 2 star high profile players

  6. Lakey91

    January 10, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    Will pick up riewoldt cheaper later IMO, and i think buddys high SD (as mentioned) means he too can be picked up cheaper. I also think his limited preseason and hawks tough opening draw could mean even big savings for buddy.

    I m on pavlich though, but one name that hasnt been mentioned is Steve johnson – anyone interested in him?

  7. dids

    January 10, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    I did have SJ at first, but later on decided I’ll take Leon Davis instead.

  8. holybishop15

    January 10, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    With a more prominant role in the midfield, Pavlich is a certain in my side. Got Brown as my other expensive player, but he’ll probably be changed.

  9. Lakey91

    January 10, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    dids – not sure on leon. I think MM might play didak and thomas in midfield more this year, eating into leons time in the guts.

  10. dylan

    January 11, 2009 at 4:19 am

    i like ur idea of dids with leon, if it pulls of it will be a big for ur team because im sure many people will look over leon.

  11. dids

    January 11, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Didak is a HFF, that’s where he plays best and he will play there most of each game. Davis was playing his best towards the end of last season in the midfield, so he will play there. Yeah, they’ll rotate but that’s what MM does and it doesn’t affect Swan’s scores and personally I don’t think it’ll affect Leon’s either. I think he is a better option than SJ and being 30k is a bonus. But of course that’s just my opinion.

  12. dids

    January 11, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    30k cheaper*

  13. woowoo

    January 11, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Roughhead is the value for 2009 and the powerful forward of choice… he is a man mountain and a extreme talent, he lives in the shadow of Franklin, but if Franklin is not right he will play as a decoy and Roughy will kick some big bags.

    If you like a punt, have something on him for the Coleman.

  14. Dan

    January 11, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    I was tossing up between Pav Buddy

    Went Pav for two reasons:

    1. role change to possibly play more midfield give me reason to think he might actually improve his average

    2. low standard deviation makes him a better captaincy option (which I don’t have many of).

    I think Buddy will improve his average this year also – but his scoring won’t get more consistent. I think he may not play as many games as last year.

  15. dylan

    January 11, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    just noticed when i was looking at my fan planner i dont have any players from the top 3 teams (geelong,hawks and dogs). anyone else have something like that?

    i think the reason i dont have anyone atm from them teams is because 1. they not going to have many/any rookies coming in to play many games. 2. they r all pretty expensive.

    pretty random but i thought i was just add it because i find it interesting

  16. dids

    January 12, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Good point dylan, I only have Cross in my team atm.

  17. Nick

    January 12, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    Every year I have decided not to pick up Franklin from the get go has been a year I’ve been stung by not having him in the team. Not so much because of his price but because I believe every team should have a freak who is good for 50 a game, but is capable of 150 on occassion.

    There were plenty of rounds last year my opponent for the following week decided not to make any changes to his squad because my score looked beatable, then Franklin fired and an extra hundred points topped them off.

    Then again, there were also plenty of rounds where the opponent had Lance as their captain following a 120 scoring round, and true to form he pulled out a 0.15 – 60 point week and it ruined their team.

    I wouldn’t make him your captain, but I wouldn’t worry about a shoulder injury that’s been operated on in the off season, he is an athletic forward, most of the marks I saw him take were out in front of his defender. So as along as the forward’s legs work and they can hold their arms above their head they should be fine.

  18. Don Gibson

    January 12, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    anyone think Richo is worth a look at?

  19. Al

    January 13, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Speaking of sore shoulders anyone got any news on how Rusling is training?

  20. dids

    January 13, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    Rusling’s training really well. He’ll be ready for round 1 but won’t play in round 1 NAB Cup so could lose his spot to someone like Macaffer.

  21. TRS

    January 13, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    If anything, Rusling’s already lost his spot to John Anthony and has to win it back. He’s doing non-contact training AFAIK, and should be in full training by the end of the month.

  22. XztatiK

    January 15, 2009 at 3:03 am

    No to Richo.

    Yes to Riewy.

  23. woowoo

    January 15, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Surely Rusling is an outrageous risk given he has played about 5 games in 4 years and had 3-4 shoulder recos…

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