The last few years have certainly been rough on Sydney Swans key forward, Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin, suffering multiple setbacks that inevitably took their toll, both on body and mind. However, despite what turned out to be a disappointing 2019 campaign, individually and collectively for his team, Buddy has sent out a clear message ahead of the upcoming 2020 AFL season.

Speaking with the official AFL website, Franklin insisted that he remains “as hungry as ever” and keen to help the Swans succeed, as his team prepares for the challenging campaign to come. “I’ve got no doubt that if my pre-season continues like this, I’ll have a strong year,” he underlined with great enthusiasm, as the team continues to work hard at their Coffs Harbour training camp.

Sydney will undoubtedly hope so too, given that in the latest pre-season Aussie Rules betting odds, the Swans are priced as a 40/1 long-shot to win the Grand Final in 2020. Meanwhile, Franklin himself is tipped at 9/1 for the Coleman Medal, an award he’s already claimed on four previous occasions, twice at Hawthorn Hawks and twice with the Swans.

Despite suffering a troublesome hamstring injury throughout the 2019 season, which reduced him to just 10 appearances during the campaign, the lowest amount played over 15 years as a professional player, Franklin returned to action for the 300th game of his illustrious career and the final fixture of the season. Buddy helped the Swans to a 45-point win against St Kilda.

That game was also marked by the farewell appearances for Jarrad McVeigh and Kieren Jack, along with the additional retirements of Heath Grundy and Nick Smith, all one-club men with Sydney who will all be sorely missed on the pitch. “It was a special day” said Franklin of that occasion, having kicked four goals, taking his career tally to 944. But will he ever reach the 1000-goal mark?

Reaching such a phenomenal milestone would place Franklin amongst a very exclusive group of men, with only five players in footy history having achieved the feat. The all-time record of 1360 career goals was set by former St Kilda and Sydney legend Tony ‘Plugger’ Lockett, who retired in 1999, but added three more goals following a brief return for three games in 2002.

While it’s unlikely that Franklin will challenge Lockett’s record, during the next three years remaining on his contract with Sydney, providing that Buddy is back to his confident best, there’s no reason why can’t extend a tally that currently stands at 944 career goals. Nevertheless, rather than focus on milestones, the man himself just wants to get back to full fitness, ready to play as many games possible during the 2020 season.

I’ve been pretty blessed with my body over time, I’ve had a lot of injuries, but I’ve been able to push through them and play.” Franklin observed during the AFL interview. “You’ve got to move forward, and I’ve got full confidence in my body and the program we’ve got in place at the footy club that I can get myself prepared for a strong season.” He concluded, signalling that Buddy could well be back to his very best in 2020.