Superstar Sydney Swans forward Lance “Buddy” Franklin has been ruled out of Saturday’s qualifying final against Fremantle due to illness, with the club saying he’s being treated for an “ongoing mental health condition”.
Sydney Swans general manager of football, Tom Harley, said in a statement that the club was doing everything possible to support Franklin, who played his second game after returning from injury in the final round match against the Gold Coast Suns on Saturday.
“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,” Harley said. “Our first priority is looking after Lance’s health. 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.”
Coach John Longmire addressed the media saying it had been “an ongoing issue for a while”.
“It is a condition that is very treatable, but he needs time to be able to treat it and that is what we are giving him,” he said. “It is a challenge for him every day not just a football thing.”
“He wants people to know about it and understand what he is going through. It is serious but treatable.
“I think this is a step forward that we can talk about it in an open environment.”
Swans captain Jarrad McVeigh said the news was “a shock to a lot of the boys”.
“It is not something you know about until he put his hand up,” he said. “We have dealt with a few things throughout the year and we are a strong enough group to get through this week.”
The Swans asked that Franklin’s and his family’s privacy be respected.
Franklin had a relatively quiet game on Saturday night at the SCG, kicking just a single goal shortly before the end in Sydney’s 63-point win over the Gold Coast. The win sealed a fourth place finish for the Swans, who now face minor premiers Fremantle in a tough qualifying final in Perth this weekend.
Franklin finished with 13 possessions and six marks, and while he has been out with back and rib injuries, the team has sought alternative targets in the forward line, amassing 10 goalkickers for the third week in a row – a feat matched only by Hawthorn this season.
Franklin, dubbed a “Bondi billionaire” after signing a $10 million deal to join the Swans from Hawthorn last year, has been the go-to forward for his team, but in recent weeks, fellow star recruit Kurt Tippett, 2009 draft pick Sam Reid and 2015 debutante Isaac Heeney have come into their own as key forwards.
Earlier this season, veteran Swan and 2014 Australian of the Year Adam Goodes took time out from the game after being targeted from booing by rival fans.
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