People love sticking the boot into Lance Franklin. He’s had a shocker in his first hit out in Swans’ colours, his club got rolled by Greater Western Sydney and he was upstaged by young Giants Jeremy Cameron and Jonathon Patton.
But Buddy’s never been great in the wet. Let’s withhold judgement on what he’ll add to the Swans until they’ve had a chance to get a better side on the park.
Buddy will be better for Kurt Tippett and Adam Goodes, and they’ll be better for Buddy. He played second fiddle to Jarryd Roughead last season, and there’s every chance he’ll be playing that ‘take-the-best-defender’ job with Kurt Tippett this year as well. He could be in danger of becoming the league’s most expensive foil.
There’s no doubt he’ll be a good addition for the Swans on the field, but the price they paid to get him there was too great. As well as kicking goals, he’s a marketing tool. The Swans have to realise brand Buddy is a package that doesn’t necessarily see him in bed at 9pm on a Friday night. Franklin comes with hoopla, he’ll turn up to the opening of an envelope, and the Swans are a club that abhors fuss. We can’t see Adam Goodes turning up for training in the latest Nena + Pasadena t-shirt, helping out Franklin’s side project.
If we may, let’s put it another way. Here are five key forwards we’d have in our side ahead of Buddy. In their own way, they are more influential and come without all that baggage.
Jeremy Cameron: Cameron is a gun, pure and simple. After 29 goals in his debut season, he snagged 62 last year in the side that won the wooden spoon. Plus, he’s only 20. If you offered Cameron a nine-year deal he might actually be a realistic chance to see it through. He’s a brilliant mark, a true kick and has more upside than Mila Kunis.
Travis Cloke: The Collingwood big man is the best contested mark in the league, and finished second behind Jarryd Roughead in the Coleman medal last season. He may not look it, but he’s a couple of months younger than Franklin, and holds up the Magpies attacking end singlehandedly. It’ll be interesting to see how much better he’ll be for the inclusion of Jesse White, because so far he’s had impostors like Chris Dawes and Quinten Lynch lending a hand.
Jarryd Roughead: A bloke who can win a Coleman Medal, pinch hit in the ruck and is a proven big-game performer. His low-key approach endears him to fans and opponents alike – there aren’t many people who have a bad word to say about Roughy. He’s 27 and has bounced back from his Achilles injury so well that he looks as though he could go around for another five or six seasons. Buddy may get the headlines, but give us this Roughy any day of the week.
Josh Kennedy: Kennedy has quietly turned himself into one of the premier power forwards in the league. He had his 2012 season ruined by injury, but kicked 59 and 60 goals in 2011 and 2013. He takes a good grab, but it’s his pressure around the ball that impresses most – he enjoys a chase and tackle about as much as an Emu Export. The less said about his twinkle toes run-up the better, but at 26 Kennedy is a man who’d get the nod in our side.
Kurt Tippett: Had a bit of the ‘looks-likeTarzan-plays-like-Janes’ about him, but played out of his skin against a fair Hawthorn side in the 2012 preliminary final. Looked like he had super glue on his hands that day, and booted four goals as the Crows almost caused a boilover. His first year in Sydney had a delayed start due to suspension, but when he did get on the park he managed 35 goals from his 12 games. We reckon Tippett is about ready to take the comp by the scruff of the neck.