Sport AFL Lance Franklin out of qualifying final with ‘mental health condition’
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Lance Franklin out of qualifying final with ‘mental health condition’

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Sydney Swans star forward Lance Franklin has been ruled out of his team’s qualifying final with Fremantle at Subiaco on Saturday due to an “ongoing mental health condition”.

Franklin was hospitalised after suffering a seizure at a Bondi cafe on Friday. He was released the next day and played in his side’s win over Gold Coast.

The club confirmed on Tuesday evening that Franklin suffers “mild epilepsy” and the seizure is not related to the mental health condition.

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Regarded as the most influential player in the game when fully fit, Franklin shocked fans in 2013 when he defected from reigning premiers Hawthorn to sign a nine-year, $10 million deal with Sydney.

Although the Swans did not divulge the exact nature of the problem, former Hawthorn president and founder of Beyond Blue Jeff Kennett, described it as a depressive illness and lauded the Swans and Franklin for making the announcement.

Earlier in the day, Swans general manager of football Tom Harley said Franklin was being treated for the condition and it wasn’t clear when he would be back in the side.

“Our first priority is looking after Lance’s health,” Harley said.

“Lance has been open with the club about his condition and while we consider it a private medical matter, he is aware he has our full support.

“The timeframe on his return is unclear at this stage. He will certainly miss this week’s match and we will continue to monitor his condition.”

Franklin wasn't at his best in games against St Kilda and Gold Coast. Photo: Getty
Franklin wasn’t at his best in games against St Kilda and Gold Coast. Photo: Getty

The Swans have asked that Franklin’s privacy be respected as he continues to fight the problem.

The 28-year-old had only recently returned to the Sydney team after sitting out rounds 19-21 with a back complaint.

He didn’t look to be at his brilliant best during the Swans’ past two matches, kicking a goal in each game in big wins against St Kilda and Gold Coast.

Sydney coach John Longmire said Franklin’s condition was “serious”.

“He wants people to know about it and understand what he is going through. It is serious but treatable,” Longmire said.

“He is confident he will be able to get the treatment required but we are not going to sit here and put a date on when he returns.

“This is very common across society and across professional sport. Whilst it’s a very personal issue, there’s plenty of people who deal with it and are able to be very successful.

“Most importantly, he is getting the right assistance.

“We consider those mental health issues very seriously. It does not discriminate as far as an 18-year-old who comes from interstate or one of the best players in the game.”

Longmire said he had raised his concerns about mental health with the Players’ Association and the AFL Commission.

“It’s an issue in AFL football, it’s an issue in sport, it’s an issue in the community,” he said.

“I spoke to the AFL Commission about it three years ago about the need and concern I had for this type of thing that was becoming more prevalent the more information and more educated we were becoming.

“I’ve also spoken to the AFLPA about it. It’s something that needs to be addressed. I’m confident that it’s just started but we have a long way to go.”

Swans co-captain Jarrad McVeigh said the issue was a private one that had taken the players by surprise.

“Obviously it is a shock to a lot of the boys. Bud is in a place where he can get the best support at the moment,” McVeigh said.

“It is a very personal thing and private matter with doctors. It is not something you know about until he put his hand up.”

Franklin’s injury is the latest blow for a Swans side missing some of their very best personnel at the business end of the season.

Kieren Jack won’t make the trip west because of a knee injury, while Luke Parker is battling to return from a broken ankle.

Despite the absences, Longmire is confident his side will give a good account of themselves against the Dockers.

“We understand the environment we’re going to walk into, but our players are aware of that,” he said.

“We know we have to be at our best, but we know what this time of year is about and we’ve got some experienced players that’ll look forward to the challenge.”

For help or information on depression and suicide:   

• Lifeline: 13 11 14
• Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
• MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78
• Beyondblue support service: 1300 22 4636
• Lifeline: 13 11 14
• SANE Australia Helpline 1800 18 SANE (7263)

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