AS THE pain of defeat lingers, Hawthorn midfielder Brad Sewell has urged critics to lay off Lance Franklin, claiming there were several players to blame for the grand final loss to Sydney.
Franklin's poor kicking for goal, and his flawed kicking technique, have been harshly critiqued since he converted only three of eight shots at goal in the 10-point loss to the Swans.
His hooked set shot with 16 minutes left, notching only a point, has been particularly noted. Had he converted from about 30 metres, the Hawks would have led by three goals.
Sewell, though, said it would be wrong to focus on Franklin, who was in tears after the defeat. He is also negotiating a contract extension which could make him the league's highest-paid player. ''We had plenty of opportunities. I think to single out Buddy in that way is really unfair,'' Sewell said yesterday.
''There were a number of guys that could have kicked goals, there were a number of guys who could have had a greater impact further up the field. Those comments certainly weren't made when he kicked 13 against the Kangaroos back in the day. We all have our days.''
Essendon great Matthew Lloyd had been one to question Franklin, claiming his poor kicking was ''bound to happen'' because of a technique that even Hawks goalkicking champion Jason Dunstall was unable to alter. ''He'll be remembered as one of the greats in football but, Buddy Franklin, that kicking technique is always going to come back and hurt you,'' Lloyd said.
Franklin finished the season with a team-high 69 goals but was wasteful with 64 points. He had been instrumental in the Hawks regaining their composure in the third term against the Swans, with the midfielders looking to him at every opportunity. He converted twice, with his 70-metre goal late in the quarter one of the highlights of the afternoon. ''He has been terrific for most of the year. If the ball bounces a couple of different ways, then Buddy is a saviour for hauling us over the line in that third quarter,'' Sewell said. ''That's a little bit unfair, pointing the finger at him.''
Sewell had a pair of difficult snap shots at goal himself late in the final term but both were under immense pressure after throw-ins.
''I am the last bloke that needs to be commenting on Buddy's goalkicking,'' Sewell said. ''As I said, he has his days where he kicks straight and he has his days when he doesn't, as does everybody else. It was just unfortunate it was under the microscope of a grand final that it wasn't our day.''
While teammates Jarryd Roughead, Grant Birchall and Cyril Rioli did not have the impact they had wanted, Sewell was dominant throughout the afternoon and may well have been the Norm Smith medallist had the Hawks won. He is also one of the favourites to claim the Peter Crimmins Medal at the club's best and fairest tonight.
The agony of defeat still weighs on him, and he continues to replay several moments over and over.
''I have had lots of thoughts. It's always ticking over in your head, different plays, different opportunities and things you did do and things you didn't do,'' he said. ''I am certain that will be the case for most of the guys for a while.''