AFL

Lance 'Buddy' Franklin fittest he's been since arriving at Sydney Swans

Lance Franklin is the fittest he's been since moving north to play for the Swans in 2014, co-captain Jarrad McVeigh believes.

Whatever struggles the superstar forward has endured since withdrawing from last season due to mental illness, he seems to have remained focused on his physical work, putting him in prime condition to start afresh.

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Franklin is all but certain to be included in the team's preseason challenge match against Port Adelaide at Blacktown International Sportspark on Saturday afternoon. He produced an outstanding performance in Sydney's intra-club hit out at Henson Park last Friday.

"It's fantastic to see him training. This has been the best preseason he's had since he's been at the Swans," said McVeigh, who is working his way back from a knee injury.

Ready for take-off: Lance Franklin.
Ready for take-off: Lance Franklin. Photo: Getty Images

"He's done most of the sessions, came back fit and firing. He'll play the NAB Cups and hopefully lead into a big season."

Asked if this was the fittest Franklin had been since coming to Sydney on a long-term contract two seasons ago, McVeigh said: "Here, definitely. Obviously at Hawthorn he would have had some great preseasons but definitely this year's been the best preseason he's had here. It's great to see."

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McVeigh will take the coaching reins from John Longmire for Saturday's match as an experiment to try to encourage the players to think about their communication and decision-making.

"Horse [Longmire] asked me a couple of weeks ago to think about it," McVeigh said. "It's more about just improving our leadership [among] those players in the leadership group, seeing what the players see out on the field and then trying to bring that to what the coaches see and see if we're on the same page.

Rising high: Lance Franklin.
Rising high: Lance Franklin. Photo: Getty Images

"We've got a lot of other assistant coaches that will do their job. But this is more just for this week and getting a sense for what the players see out on the ground.

"Ultimately it's what we do out on the ground that can be wins and losses. Obviously coaches make a lot of moves throughout the game but in the end it's the players out on the field that are trying to organise and trying to do different things to win the game."

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