Franklin stumped by praise from Matthews - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Franklin stumped by praise from Matthews

By Roger Vaughan 09/09/2008 06:39:53 PM Comments (0)

Lance Franklin usually baulks at nothing in the AFL, but the high praise he has earned from Leigh Matthews has left him lost for words.

Matthews, acknowledged as one of the game's greatest figures, agreed after Friday night that the young Hawthorn superstar could become the best player he has seen.

Franklin heard the comment and in a rare media appearance looked nervous when it was brought up.

The 21-year-old has added to his rapidly-growing legend in the last fortnight, first bringing up his 100th goal for the season in round 22 and then kicking eight more in Friday night's qualifying final demolition of the Western Bulldogs.

Some of his play on Friday night was again simply freakish.

"If I was half as good as him (Matthews), I will be alright," was Franklin's initial response.

When pressed, he replied: "It's a hard question, you've got me on the spot - I'm not too sure, to be honest, not too sure what to think about (that)."

Hawks vice-captain Luke Hodge, sitting beside Franklin at the media conference, has no doubt Matthews could be right on the money.

"If he improves as much as he has this year, anything is possible, as long as he keeps working hard," Hodge said.

"He's probably up there with our hardest trainers - if he has that attitude, nothing can stop him."

The circumstances surrounding this press conference were almost as fascinating as Franklin himself.

He's usually off-limits to journalists and this was probably his first proper media conference since Hawthorn drafted him in late 2004.

In the second half of this season, as Franklin's form skyrocketed and the Hawks shored up second spot, he has done progressively more media work.

Journalists have deluged the Hawks media department with interview requests for Franklin and Tuesday was the perfect opportunity, given Hawthorn have a week off before the preliminary final.

There was a feel-good angle as the club used the occasion to also put up Gavin Shaw, the Carlton supporter who has handed back Franklin's 100th-goal football.

Hodge was sitting next to Franklin, just in case, but the AFL's ultimate "rock star" player coped well enough with the media spotlight.

"I'm still learning the game, I'm only 21 ... I've just got to keep training hard and keep improving out on the track, we'll just see how far I do go," he said.

"I've got to keep working on what I'm not good at and go from there."

Hodge described Franklin as a normal team-mate "at times", but said team-mates had felt no need this year to keep their resident star's ego in check.

"That's the best part about him, we haven't had to do anything this year," Hodge said.

"Whether he's had a good game or bad game, on Monday he's still the same old Buddy, still goes in there, has a joke.

"That's the best part about him, that we've seen this year."

Off-field, Franklin likes the nightlife and attracts plenty of attention.

Earlier this year, the club strongly defended him after an alleged nightclub incident involving two women.

Franklin was philosophical about the negative side of stardom.

"Some people might need to get a life, I reckon ... you can't really do much, can you, about it."

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