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Freeing up Franklin gives Hawks more bite

Lance Franklin speaks to the media on Tuesday.

Lance Franklin speaks to the media on Tuesday. Photo: Pat Scala

The attention on Lance Franklin's diminished scoreboard impact this season has unearthed Hawthorn's grander plans to underpin its premiership challenge with a new equal opportunity forward system.

Champion Data statistics show there has been a seismic and deliberate shift at Hawthorn to become less Franklin conscious and that has been a significant factor in his diminished influence.

The Hawks are kicking the ball to Franklin inside the forward 50 less now than they have in the past seven seasons - since 2006, the superstar's second year in the AFL and the last time he did not win the club's goalkicking award.

The Franklin files.

The Franklin files.

Many commentators believe Franklin has battled a form slump in the first eight rounds because he went goalless in consecutive games for the first time in his career and has been kept to three goals or less on another three occasions.

While he has kicked the same number of goals (20), his scoring shots (53, down to 35) and marks inside 50 (25, down to 16) are way down on what they were at the same stage last season, as well as scoreboard impact, which measures the points a player creates from goals, points and score assists.

The bare facts are the Hawks are not kicking the ball to Franklin as much in an effort to create a more versatile and potent forward half.

Franklin has been the target of 27per cent of Hawthorn's forward-50 entries - still the most of any player on the team - but a significant drop from 40per cent last year.

That Franklin is playing further up the ground this year - only 39 per cent of his disposals have come inside the forward 50, compared with 47per cent last year - has also been a factor.

Franklin said those who were judging him on his scoreboard impact had missed the point: that he was now ''playing a role''.

''I've played some all right football. I think I can get judged too much on goals kicked, but I think the spread of goalkickers for our club this year has been great,'' he said on Tuesday.

''It's not just one avenue to goal, there are various avenues which are good for everyone.''

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson said he realised the team had to change the way it attacked, and that Franklin might have to play a reduced role for the greater good.

''We looked at that over the summer, and we don't want to take a great player like 'Bud' out of the contest,'' he said. ''But we were just too predictable the way we went forward, and it's meant that we've had a much greater spread of goalkickers [this season].''

The move to a more complete forward structure has meant players such as Jarryd Roughead (21 goals) and Luke Breust (14), Cyril Rioli (12) and Jack Gunston (11), have flourished.

Roughead is nearing career-best form and is not only leading the team's goalkicking with 21, he also tops scoreboard impact.

At the same point last year, Franklin led that category with 28 points a game. This season, the dual Coleman medallist sits fourth with 20 points, and there is a far greater spread with Roughead (23), Rioli (22) and Gunston (22) ahead of him.

At least for now, the change in direction is paying off from a team perspective. The Hawks, sitting on top at 7-1, rank No.1 for goals, marks inside 50, and converting inside 50s into goals. But perhaps more important, their scoring accuracy has improved significantly, from 11th last year to 2nd.

Franklin, who reaffirmed his desire to defer contract negotiations until after the season, said he had no issue with the new philosophy. ''We're winning games of football, so there's no frustration with me. It would be a little bit different if we were losing, but we're winning games and that's all you can ask.''

Clarkson said he expected Franklin to benefit in the long run. ''At some point in time he is going to let go and we will benefit from that as well. He'll probably be able to let go when he hasn't got three opponents on him, and that was happening so often last year.

''But now they have to concentrate a little bit more on other players. Jack Gunston has kicked three goals the last three weeks, so [defenders] are now like 'I might not drop off him so easily next week', and that allows Bud to actually get freed up a bit more.''

13 comments so far

  • And not only this, the penny has finally dropped with Clarko that having Max Bailey in the team with Hale and Roughead gives them greater flexibility and another dimension that opposition teams are struggling to cope with.
    If Bailey had been included in last years Grand Final team I think the result would have been different.

    Commenter
    Captain Grumpy
    Location
    Kingsville
    Date and time
    May 22, 2013, 7:58AM
    • Hawthorn tend to fail in the big games. not sure Bails will solve that problem. with Buddy going to GWS in 2014 (courtersy of AFL sponsorship of Isreal proportions), I can see that 2013 is make or break for Hawks. I think they will ultimately miss the kicking skills of suckling, although his tentative approach to the ball will not.

      Good to see Schwab on the Couch the other day. Boy was he harshly treated by the Hawthorn hierarchy!!

      Commenter
      Gaz
      Location
      Yarrawonga
      Date and time
      May 22, 2013, 8:42AM
    • Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda, ain't going to change anything now Captain Grumpy! MOVE ON

      Am impressed that Buddy is Happy in his "new role" and enjoying his football. That speaks volumes to me. As for Buddy heading to GWS, well he is a RESTRICTED free agent at the end of the year, which means the HAWKS can match any offer made to Mr Franklin. Why do you think they are signing players left, right and centre? To ensure they have maximum funds available to meet the increased burden that Mr Franklin will command and quite rightly he is entitled too, unless of course he prices himself out of the market in which case he can carry GWS but won't be winning any premiership any time soon......

      So there is only one thing left to say....ONE FOR ALL and ALL FOR ONE.

      Buddy, I hope your listening son!

      Commenter
      General Soreness
      Date and time
      May 22, 2013, 10:51AM
  • blah blah blah, or is the baaa baaa baaa.

    Commenter
    Lane
    Date and time
    May 22, 2013, 10:51AM
    • I agree with Captain Grumpy that including Bailey in the Grand Final team would have meant a Hawthorn victory.

      I think the less Franklin central we become the less it hurts us if he leaves.

      Roughead is more important to sign up for dollars, he will go like Kennedy and McGlynn for less than he's worth.

      If Scully can get two first round picks and Nic Nat can cause Sheedy to give up all his draft picks for GWS what should Hawthorn get as compensation for Franklin?

      Commenter
      NathanD
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      May 22, 2013, 11:01AM
      • Hawthorns best set of games in 2012 were when Buddy did not play and other players were forced to stand up & be counted. With the exception of R1 2013, hawthorn has been a far more balanced team. Its scoring accuracy has improved and they are not so focused on Buddy. They are still making basic errors but they are in a far better position this year to last year. This enables Buddy to play a far more constructive game, rather than carry 5 people on his back + opposition players.
        With this years structure it would be a shame to loose Buddy. I was a serious critic of him, but I am very impressed now. He now has the base to become a truely great, one club player who is remembered for being a key player and contributor in a very successful team.

        Commenter
        GerryK
        Location
        Melb
        Date and time
        May 22, 2013, 12:22PM
        • sorry hawks, buddy has gone..........you can bet your bottom dollar the AFL have secretly approached him to booster the AFL's marketing presence in the western suburbs of sydney and bolster GWS...........no matter what the hawks will offer buddy, they have no hope in competing against GWS and the AFL because of salarycap, an issue of which GWS and GOLD COAST are not really under...........never underestimate demetriou and his unconscionable ways of dealings

          Commenter
          buddy dealings and the AFL
          Date and time
          May 22, 2013, 12:31PM
          • Sorry Buddy, your Dreaming.....

            Commenter
            General Soreness
            Date and time
            May 22, 2013, 1:53PM
        • Unfortunately I think he's gone. If he wanted to stay, he would have said so. Clarko said on OTC they're hoping both parties come together soon & sort it out but Buddy flat out knocked that on it's head yesterday by saying, Nup end of the year. That's exactly what Gazza, Scully & Goddard did.
          From Hawthorn's point of view it won't be the end of the world. Clarko has already started rejigging the side to win without Franklin & they've re-signed everyone else up. If he goes they will get two 1st round draft picks & save a huge amount in their salary cap.
          If you look at other clubs that lost stars - Geelong won a flag the year after Gazza left & picked up Caddy & still has a 1st round pick available. When Lockett left the saints they went from bottom 4 to a grand final in 3 years. Even the eagles bounced back after losing Judd.
          No, it will be Franklin who will be the loser if he leaves. Why he would want to leave one of the richest clubs in the country that plays finals every year, has already given him a flag (& will be a contender for a few more years) and where he has so many friends to go elsewhere is beyond me. & the Hawks are willing to pay him a million a year too! Is the extra 300K really worth it going to GWS? Me thinks something else has happened at Hawthorn that we don't know about.

          Commenter
          Moe
          Location
          Keysborough
          Date and time
          May 22, 2013, 12:35PM
          • Buddy can go, i would prefer he stay but i think he is going to chase the money, the same as gazza did, Buddy will miss out on playing in grand finals etc but his decision is his decision, also he will have to watch out for Luke Hodge when he wears another teams jumper, simple thing is we can do without Buddy would rather lose him than Sewell, Mitchell and any of our defenders, it is the players around Buddy that make him good...we play team football at Hawthorn

            Commenter
            Auzzieguy
            Date and time
            May 22, 2013, 3:04PM

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