Is Buddy An AFL Flop?

How influential is Buddy Franklin since is his move to Sydney? Image courtesy of foxsports.com.au/News Limited

It’s the news that sent shockwaves around the AFL last year. The news that made the stomachs of all Hawks fans drop. That news, of course, was the realisation Lance “Buddy” Franklin was making the move north to join the Sydney Swans  on a lucrative multi-million dollar deal. But heading into Round 8, has the switch from the black and yellow stripes of Hawthorn  to the Red V of Sydney really changed anything?

News this week in the AFL world has surrounded one big question around Buddy; “will he or won’t he play?” At the start of the season, fans of the game, regardless of what team they support, would be highlighting the ninth of May on their calendar – the fixture that sees Franklin line-up against his former employers for the very first time. But having missed the Swan’s Saturday night win over Brisbane and absent for training sessions early in the week, it Buddy has been involved in a race against time to be fit by Friday. He did however get through a training session on Wednesday night and has been cleared to play. Obviously his absence would have been a massive blow for the Swans, but how much would they have missed him if he didn't take the field?

The Swans coped well without their marquee man last weekend, thumping the Lions at the Gabba by 79 points. In the six matches Franklin has played, he has booted 12 goals, an average of 2 goals per game. Compare that with his Coleman Medal winning season in 2011, he was kicking an average of over 3 goals a game. This is the statistic that led the Swans to fork out the cash for his signature and so far, in the goals department, he hasn’t justified his huge price tag. If Buddy continues at the same pace, he will kick 25 goals less this year than he did in 2011. With that said, he has been instrumental in the final 50 for his team and is currently the leading forward in the AFL’s official player ratings – a system that analyses player’s overall contribution.

To say Hawthorn is missing Buddy would be a straight up fib. The Hawks forwards have stepped up this season and are faring far better than last season in attack. After round seven last season, Hawthorn had notched 804 points. This season, also seven rounds in, they have managed to boot 894 points. Luke Breust, Jack Gunston and Jarryd Roughead have been superb in front of goal, managing 57 goals between them thus far. The Hawks are proving to everyone they aren’t, and never were, a one man team.

When you stand back and assess Franklin’s transfer from Hawthorn to Sydney, so far you have to say there's only been one winner. Financially, Hawthorn are far better off and letting Buddy go has given the opportunity for other forwards at the club to show their worth. Franklin, albeit without scoring as many goals, still leads the competition’s forwards as the best player with his overall contribution. But if he continues to misfire, the debate that surrounds the value of his $10 million, 9-year contract will continue to intensify. For a star of the game playing amongst a decent group of players, it's expected of him to be notching three or four goals a game. One thing is for certain though, he will headline the papers on Saturday morning regardless of the result. 

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