LANCE Franklin says Hawthorn is "shocked" that he has put contract renegotiations on hold and admits the uncertainty over his future is going to be a distraction for the club.
Speaking ahead of captaining the Indigenous All Stars against Richmond in the Northern Territory on Friday night, Franklin said he wants to remain a Hawk but says it was his decision to postpone talks about a new contract until the end of the season.
The Hawks have offered Franklin, soon to be a restricted free agent, what is believed to be a four-year deal of more than $1 million a season, including marketing. It is understood Franklin’s current contract was for less than $1 million a year.
"I obviously love Hawthorn. They have been an absolutely great club for myself, this is coming up to my ninth season, but it was just my decision, it was something I wanted to do and I want to leave it to the end of the season," Franklin said on Monday.
"I know there is going to be a lot of speculation about what I am going to do at the end of the season. I want to play football, I have no intentions of leaving the football club but it is what it is, I just want to play footy."
Franklin is managed by Liam Pickering, who also has Hawks' coach Alastair Clarkson in his stable of talent.
The superstar forward has not told the Hawks their offer needs to improve, either in terms of money or length.
Clubs have found it increasingly difficult to handle the spotlight when a key player is off contract.
Geelong, with Gary Ablett in 2010, Melbourne with Tom Scully in 2011 and Collingwood with Travis Cloke last year were all put through a prolonged wait before each of those players reached a decision.
Franklin understands what it will mean for the Hawks now he has opted to follow this lead.
"It is going to be distraction. Obviously, the footy club is shocked that I haven't signed either but it's my decision," he said.
"I don't get entangled in anyone else's contract or any of the boys from the footy club. It's just something that is not talked about. Internally, it won't be spoken about.
"We just look forward to playing footy and hopefully winning a premiership."
The Hawks has said they are "not shocked" by Franklin's decision.
Fremantle, in need of a key forward and with room to move in its salary cap, and Greater Western Sydney, possibly in need of a marquee name, are possible destinations for Franklin.
The champion forward is from Perth but his family is now in Melbourne.
Franklin, 26, is already one of the major marketing faces of the league and enjoys the financial spoils of this. But, at the peak of his powers, this contract promises to be his most lucrative and he is keen to test the open market.
"At this stage, I want to stay at Hawthorn but I just want to leave it to the end of the season and go from there," he said.
"The footy club we have got is very strong. We have some very good leaders around the footy club and our group as a whole is very tight group. I have no real issues there.
"It's obviously going to be the media that is pumping it up more than ever. It is what it is, I will just wait until the end of the season."