Former Port Adelaide footballer Kane Cornes has questioned the timing of Lance Franklin’s contract extension announcement, arguing the Sydney Swans should have waited until after the AFL grand final.
The 35-year-old forward, who has played 340 AFL games and kicked 1047 goals, will play on into 2023 after signing a one-year contract extension with the Swans.
According to The Herald Sun, the deal was worth just under $600,000.
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The Swans honoured American basketball icon Michael Jordan by mimicking his famous press release from 1995, announcing Franklin’s deal via social media on Monday evening — during Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.
But speaking to Channel 9’s Footy Classified on Tuesday evening, Cornes suggested the cryptic media alert came as a distraction ahead of Sydney’s highly-anticipated season finale against the Geelong Cats.
“I’m fascinated by the scenario around it,” he said.
“If I’m being super critical, I think this is an individual thing to do to announce it.
“He should have waited until after the grand final, but that’s being incredibly picky on an absolute legend of the game.”
Veteran footy reporter Caroline Wilson pointed out that Franklin would have been the centre of attention on Saturday afternoon if Sydney hadn’t revealed his future plans ahead of the first bounce.
“The club’s plan was to put it aside and announce it after the finals campaign had ended whenever it did end, and that it was not to be a distraction,” she explained.
“What happened in recent days is there was so much talk about, ‘Will this be Lance’s last kick? Will this be his last goal?’
“(The Swans) thought it was actually going to be more of a distraction if they didn’t announce it.
“The deal was agreed to — the money anyway — back in August. It was never about the money.
“(Chairman) Andrew Pridham and (chief executive) Tom Harley kept telling us it was more about whether Lance wanted to play on another year.
“They insist he was never going anywhere else.
“Shortly before the qualifying final against Melbourne … he came to the club and said, ‘I want to play on’, so the deal was done.”
Franklin, who signed a nine-year deal with the Swans worth $10 million in 2014, has booted 52 goals from 22 matches this season, including two majors and a crucial mark in the dying stages of Saturday’s thrilling one-point victory over Collingwood.
No other player from the 2004 draft remains on an AFL list.
“There’s been a lot of knockers over the years, haven’t there?” Franklin told reporters at the SCG on Tuesday.
“When I first got here, people were knocking that I wouldn’t get there, I wouldn’t make it, I would play for four or five years and that’d be it.
“I’ve definitely proved them wrong, haven’t I?”
Franklin admitted it was a “50-50” call on whether he’d retire or play on into a 19th season, but the former Hawthorn champion claimed he never considered playing for a third club.
“Me and Jesinta and my family, we came to the decision we wanted to stay in Sydney. It was a long process to come to that decision,” he said.
“I wasn’t sure whether I was going to go on, but I’ve come to the decision that I’ve still got the passion and love the game. I’ve enjoyed every minute of this year, we’ve got such an exciting group here and to go on another year is just a no-brainer for me.
“It hasn’t been easy. I’ve been in the game for a long time, I’ve got 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.
“I’m just so proud I get to go on for another year – that’s great – but my main focus is this week. It’s what we play football for is to play in Grand Finals and I get another opportunity this week to go out there and do what I love.
“As the year went on and I spoke to the people that I care about, the decision was made clear that I needed to go on and there was unfinished business. Obviously we get the opportunity to win a Grand Final this week, but I feel like I’ve still got a little bit to give.
“I’ve still got that passion and drive to want to compete. Until that goes, that’s when I’ll finish up. It hasn’t gone at the moment, so I’m still pumped and ready to go for this weekend.”
Although Franklin has been injury prone in recent years, the scenes of fans flooding onto the SCG when he kicked his 1000th career goal showed he is still one of the sport’s biggest drawcards.
He currently sits behind Doug Wade (1057), Jason Dunstall (1254), Gordon Coventry (1299) and Tony Lockett (1360) on the all-time VFL/AFL goalkicker list.
The four-time Coleman Medal recipient needs four majors on Saturday to equal Dunstall’s 78 goals in finals, which is second behind Coventry’s 111.
“Geelong have won 16 in a row, so they’re in some fantastic form,” Franklin said.
“We’re playing some good football, so we’re just going to go down there, give it our all and see how we go.”
The AFL grand final gets underway at MCG on Saturday afternoon, with the first bounce scheduled for at 2.30pm AEST
Originally published as Kane Cornes questions timing of Lance Franklin’s contract extension announcement