AFL star Franklin confirmed for MCG return

AFL star Lance Franklin will play for the Sydney Swans against Melbourne at the MCG.
AFL star Lance Franklin will play for the Sydney Swans against Melbourne at the MCG.

Lance Franklin's legendary aura will be on full display at the MCG for the first time since 2018 when the superstar Sydney forward faces ladder-leading Melbourne.

After an injury-ravaged last two seasons, one of the game's greatest-ever goal-kickers will light up the home of football on Saturday night against the unbeaten Demons.

Franklin travelled with the Swans and has been named to play after a two-game absence due to bone bruising on his knee.

The Swans will also be boosted by the return of star defender Dane Rampe, who has missed the past three games with a broken finger.

Franklin missed the entirety of last year's COVID-19 disrupted season due to hamstring and knee injuries.

The 34-year-old played just 10 games in 2019, but in three matches so far this year he has kicked 11 goals as the Swans have shot into finals contention.

The left-footed veteran's last appearance at the MCG was in round 21, 2018 when he kicked 2.5 in a tight Sydney win against the Demons.

Swans chief executive Tom Harley said the club's legendary figure had done everything possible to recover from his latest setback.

"Clearly there's a management element with all of our players but this was a contact, unpreventable type of injury," Harley said.

"He's done a power of work, as (Swans coach) John (Longmire) said on Monday, and he's fully preparing to play tomorrow night."

Franklin's record at the MCG is astonishing, having kicked 334 goals in 106 games for the Swans and Hawthorn.

Swans midfielder Callum Mills, who will play his 100th game, said he "runs taller" when Franklin is on the ground.

"I think the fact that he's just got a big presence around him whenever he plays. Big games he always plays well and Saturday night's no different," Mills said.

"A bit of his aura, a bit of what he's done in the past and the kind of leader he is.

"But everyone's part of our forward line, the synergy they've created in these first seven weeks has been pretty impressive and (Franklin's) a main driver and so is 'Paps' (Tom Papley)."

Sydney, who sit fourth on the ladder with a 5-2 record, have won four of their last five matches at the MCG.

Melbourne have again opted against picking key forward Sam Weideman, preferring former North Melbourne tall Ben Brown.

After being the medical sub last week, veteran Nathan Jones has been dropped at the expense of James Harmes, while Harry Petty comes in for luckless Adam Tomlinson (knee).

Australian Associated Press