‘A wonderful personal achievement’: Even Longmire is counting down to Franklin’s 1000th

A big part of John Longmire wants Lance Franklin to knock over his 1000th career goal as soon as possible, just so reporters will stop asking him about it every week.

But even the Sydney Swans coach is letting himself get a little bit excited about the prospect of Franklin getting past the milestone in front of 60,000 people in the opening round of the new AFL season next year.

It helps that it’s December, and there’s enough distance between now and that round one clash with the GWS Giants at Accor Stadium for Longmire to let his mind wander.

Franklin only needs five more goals to become the sixth man in VFL/AFL history to hit four figures.

So far, he’s had a flawless off-season. The 34-year-old wasn’t due back to training until Monday, but showed up a couple of weeks ago with the Swans’ first to fourth-year players for some optional conditioning work.

“Hopefully he’s ready to go and has a good summer. He’s been training really well, up until now,” Longmire said. “We’ve just got to make sure we manage him from here on in to get him to that round one, to be feeling as good as he possibly can, and whenever it happens it’ll be a wonderful thing for him.

Swans star forward Lance Franklin.Credit:Getty

“It’s not the focus of the team at the moment as you’d imagine, but it’s a wonderful personal achievement – I don’t know whether it’ll actually be seen again in this day and age.”

If Franklin can’t bag five against the Giants, there’s still a chance Swans fans could watch him hit the 1000 in the flesh after the club requested a round two match at the SCG.

Lance Franklin on Monday. He returned to training several weeks early to get a head start on season 2022.Credit:Getty

The last player to do it was Geelong legend Gary Ablett Sr in 1996, and as Longmire noted, it may never happen again. Indeed, every moment counts when it comes to opportunities to observe Franklin’s brilliance in person, as the champion forward approaches the final year of his rich, nine-year contract with Sydney. He does so in fine fettle, having seemingly overcome the injury troubles that plagued him in 2019 and 2020.

“He’s been working really strongly in the off-season, as he did last year. He was rewarded for that work he did on the off-season last year with a solid season this year, and we’re hoping that’s the case again,” Longmire said.

“It’s something he’ll always have to do and so he’s mindful of that. We’re also mindful of making sure we don’t train him too hard at this time of the year. He’s done a lot of miles in the legs over the years, he’s looking great at the present time, but he’s not going to do everything. As long as he gets to the line feeling good about himself, he’s done the preparation, we’ll be pleased with that.”

Almost the entire Swans list was on deck for training at Lakeside Oval on Monday, where they were greeted with the dreaded 2km time trail – except for draftees Angus Sheldrick and Corey Warner, who were permitted to stay in WA to spend the Christmas period with their families.

“It would have been great to have them here training for their first time, but if they had to go back at Christmas it would have been a bit difficult for them, so they stay there until January. It’ll be good to see those boys in the first week of January,” Longmire said.

“Most of the guys have been back – even though they haven’t needed to be – they’ve been back training for a few weeks now, which has been great. They’ve been coming in and out of the program and the younger guys really appreciate that. It’s been great to see.”

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