Franklin is a freak, says Lions coach - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Franklin is a freak, says Lions coach

By Laine Clark 15/04/2008 02:41:13 PM Comments (0)

Now for the Brisbane Lions' next trick.

Pulling off a 67-point turnaround to beat Port Adelaide last round was impressive enough.

But a much more tougher AFL assignment looms on Saturday night at the Gabba - stopping Lance "Buddy" Franklin.

The Hawks spearhead has already shown he can kick goals - he leads the league with 21 majors from just four matches.

However, Lions coach Leigh Matthews clearly shudders at the prospect of the 21-year-old Franklin reaching his full potential.

"They say at Hawthorn he is the third best endurance runner," Matthews marvelled.

"We know his speed and movement on the footy field so he is an incredible physical athlete.

"He's just a unique physical specimen."

The Lions mentor was at Launceston's Aurora Stadium to see Franklin boot six goals in Hawthorn's 44-point win over Adelaide last Sunday and admitted the experience was "scary".

"Lance Franklin is kind of a freak, he's the kind of player people come and watch play," he said.

"At one stage he out marked (192cm defender) Ben Rutten in a genuine contest and I thought to myself `God, that's scary'."

Matthews has been plotting a way to minimise Franklin's damage since the youngster almost singlehandedly ended the Lions' slim finals chances last season.

Franklin's five goals proved the difference in Hawthorn's 24-point round 19 win over the Lions.

It ended the Lions' five-game winning run, derailing their bold top eight push.

But Matthews admits there is still no obvious match up for Franklin.

"I don't know if there's such a thing as an obvious match-up - it's a matter of you've got to use what you've got," he said.

"I mean, our tall defenders are Daniel Merrett and Joel Patfull.

"They're the main two defenders that play that kind of role, so I'm sure one of those two will be on him for the majority of the day."

The Hawks have not beaten the Lions at the Gabba since round 18, 2000.

But Hawthorn will go into the Gabba clash as favourites after winning their first four games to head to the top of the AFL ladder.

The Hawks have one of the AFL's most dangerous forward lines with Franklin and Jarryd Roughead (12 goals) kicking 33 majors between them in four matches.

But the Lions are hardly struggling - Daniel Bradshaw (16 goals) and co-captain Jonathan Brown (13 goals) have combined for 29.

All four are among the league's top 10 goal-kickers for 2008.

Bradshaw was the Lions' leading goal kicker in 2005 and 2006 but even Matthews was shaking his head over the forward's 2008 feats.

Bradshaw booted five against Port to continue a remarkable return from a knee reconstruction that robbed him of 2007.

"I said it would be logical that anyone would be better after four or five games than when they first start playing," he said of Bradshaw.

"(But) the way he moved at training before he even started playing again, he didn't have the look of a player who hadn't played for 12 months.

"I've never seen Daniel Bradshaw look better than he has this first month at any stage of his career.

"That doesn't quite make sense."

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