The SCG roared as Lance Franklin marked his return to footy in style but his comeback came with an eyebrow-raising incident.
The Swans favourite, who missed all of the 2020 season because of injury, reminded everyone what we’d been missing by kicking his first goal of the year in the opening quarter of Saturday afternoon’s blockbuster against Adelaide.
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Leading up for a mark 50m out, Franklin went back and bombed the Sherrin through the big sticks, shaking his fist in celebration as teammates rushed to congratulate the left-footer.
But Franklin’s first major of 2021 from a set shot looks like it may open a can of worms as the season progresses. With his trademark kicking arc, where he veers off to the left, Buddy prompted the umpire to call play on.
The new standing man on the mark rule, whereby a defender is not allowed to move unless the umpire calls play on because the kicker deviates from their running line, left many wondering at the start of the season what impact that would have on Buddy’s routine.
Now we have our answer. If he keeps angling out wide onto his left boot from set shots then, based on Saturday’s ruling, Franklin better be prepared to hear the umpire call play on and face added pressure from the man on the mark.
In commentary for Fox Footy, Brisbane legend Jonathan Brown suggested the call of play on was a sign of “double standards”.
“If they’re consistent they shouldn’t call play on, if it’s his natural arc,” Brown said.
“They did call play on, even though it was his natural arc. I’m not sure (about that), little bit of double standards there.
“They normally haven’t been calling play on, but anyway, the umpires may have tightened up on that in Round Two.”
Others also suggested Franklin was hard-done by, considering he’s had his left-leaning arc for his entire career and it is part of his natural kicking ritual.
Keenan Ramsey tweeted: “Buddy kicking after the siren and runs his natural arc, do they call play on?”
Sports reporter Vince Rugari wrote: “Calling play on against Buddy taking a set shot is a crime against football.
“Deadset you’ve seen other blokes basically arc their run to the boundary line in their build-up but Bud takes one step and it’s called, what a joke.”
Franklin was earlier this week cleared to play his first game of senior footy since Round 23, 2019, after a promising return in the Swans reserves last weekend.
The 34-year-old played just one half against the Giants reserves, but his performance was enough to convince coach John Longmire he was finally ready to return to the Swans’ best 22.
Franklin has played just 10 games in the past two years, and missed the entire 2020 season as a result of soft tissue complications.
His return was welcomed by everyone in footy — except for perhaps Crows supporters.
Former Hawthorn and Melbourne star Jordan Lewis told Fox Footy after Franklin kicked his comeback goal: “I’ve got goosebumps. It is great to see.”