Former Port Adelaide star Kane Cornes has accused Sydney Swans forward Lance Franklin of selfishness, suggesting the eight-time All-Australian’s contract saga is distracting his teammates ahead of the finals.
Earlier this week, Nine journalist Michael Atkinson reported that Franklin was considering turning his back on the Swans for a deal with the Brisbane Lions.
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But on Saturday, Franklin’s management released a statement confirming the 35-year-old was still “undecided” about his future in the sport, officially putting contract talks on hold and hinting at a possible retirement.
“At this stage conversations have been paused around my contract so I can put all my focus on playing footy,” Franklin said.
“No further comment will be made until the season is done and I have decided about my future.
“I am still undecided and need time after the season to make a family decision about whether I continue to play next year.”
Speaking on Channel 9’s AFL Sunday Footy Show, Cornes argued that Franklin’s “very strange” statement didn’t stop speculation about his future in the sport, but rather fanned the flames.
“It was a very ‘me, me, me’ thing to do, I thought, from Buddy Franklin when the Sydney Swans are flying,” he said on Sunday morning.
“They’d paid him $10 million over nine years … I’m not sure you need to release a statement prior to the game.
“What was the point of Buddy doing that?
“It didn’t alleviate any of the talk. It made the talk fester more.
“The day before a game to release a statement like that, I thought it was very strange.”
Franklin has been in excellent form this season, kicking 41 goals in 17 games for Swans. However, the ongoing contract drama has become a significant distraction for John Longmire’s side as they approach September.
Lions coach Chris Fagan believes that if Franklin is considering a move to Queensland it would more likely be for retirement rather than continuing his football career.
“I would have thought if they are moving to Queensland, that that‘s perhaps an indication that Bud’s going to retire from AFL football,” he said on Friday.
“If it came to pass down the track that they do move here, and. someone reaches out from his camp and suggests that he still wants to play, then we would be remiss as a footy club not to go and have a conversation with him.
“As far I‘m concerned he’s a Sydney Swans player, and if any of that was going to happen, it would happen when the season’s all over.
“My latest communication with him was a text message I sent to him when he kicked his 1000th (AFL) goal which was four months ago.
“I don‘t know what will play out in the future but the way I see it right now is if he is moving to Queensland to live, I would suggest that he’s going to retire.”
Franklin joined the Swans from the Hawthorn Hawks in 2014 on a nine-year, $10 million deal.
While he has been injury prone in recent years, the scenes of fans flooding onto the SCG when he kicked his 1000th career goal showed he is still one of the sport’s biggest drawcards.
The Swans will face North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium on Sunday afternoon, with the first bounce scheduled for 1.10pm AEST.