Lance Franklin says he contemplated ending his AFL career at the conclusion of this season before deciding he had “unfinished business” with Sydney and signed a one-year contract extension
After months of conjecture about whether or not he would retire after Saturday’s grand final or join a rival club, the star forward made the announcement a few short days out from the decider against Geelong at the MCG.
Rumours swirled this season that Franklin was on his way out of the club with whom he signed a hugely lucrative nine-year deal in 2013, as coach John Longmire juggles a salary cap and a list heavy on young talent.
But the Swans announced late on Monday that the 35-year-old would play on, tweeting a two-word statement which simply read: “One more”.
Asked how close he came to quitting, Franklin replied “50-50”.
“But as the year went on and I spoke to the people I care about, the decision was made clear that I need to go on, there’s obviously unfinished business,” he said, referring to a Swans premiership.
“I feel like I still have a little bit to give. It’s been a long process to come to this decision. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve been in the game a long time, I have a young family now, so it was a hard decision.
“But my passion for the game, my love for this football club, my heart is still here and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
The decision means Franklin will enter his 10th season with Sydney and 19th overall, in a continuation of one of the most illustrious careers the game has seen.
When he joined the Swans as a free agent, days after playing in the grand final that won Hawthorn the 2013 flag, he had already won two premierships with the Hawks. That also included 2008, a campaign during which he kicked 113 goals.
As it stands, Franklin has kicked 1,047 career goals over 340 games, having eclipsed the 1,000-goal mark against the Cats at the SCG in March to become the sixth player in AFL/VFL history to do so.
He has now overtaken Gary Ablett Snr’s tally of 1,031 this season and sits behind only Doug Wade (1057), Jason Dunstall (1254), Gordon Coventry (1299) and Tony Lockett (1360).
There have been signs of Franklin’s mortality in recent years, when soft-tissue injuries kept him sidelined for extended periods. In 2022, however, he kicked more than 50 majors in a season for the 13th time in his career.
After being held goalless for the first time this season in Sydney’s qualifying final win over Melbourne, Franklin kicked two crucial goals in last weekend’s one-point preliminary-final win over Collingwood.
He has not yet won a flag with the Swans, having been a part of the 2014 and 2016 grand final-losing teams.