Franklin eyes Richardson's example - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Franklin eyes Richardson's example

By Roger Vaughan 04/03/2009 03:36:44 PM Comments (0)

Matthew Richardson's stunning 2008 AFL season could be the preview of how Lance Franklin becomes an even better player.

Richmond's Richardson and Hawthorn's Franklin were two of the top football stories of last year.

Franklin, 22, wreaked havoc in the Hawks forward line and won the Coleman Medal with 113 goals as they won the premiership.

Richardson, 34 this month, added another dimension to a spectacular career by switching from a purely-key forward role to frequently running off the wing.

He finished equal-third in the Brownlow Medal and, like Franklin, earnt All-Australian selection.

"It certainly opened up a lot of eyes to guys who have the capability, in terms of their height and aerobic capacity - what impact they can have through the middle," Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson said of Richardson's impact.

"They're such a dangerous commodity, pushing forward, when they've got the ball, and also because of their size, they can assist enormously just like a ruckman, the old dropping back and filling a hole in defence.

"It hasn't been the blueprint for us, but it's certainly made us aware (that) a guy with aerobic capacity and height can have a pretty big impact in the middle of the ground."

Franklin is yet to play in the pre-season as he recovers from shoulder surgery and a thumb problem.

But Clarkson said the athletic key forward has still enjoyed a solid summer, with plenty of running.

Clarkson added Franklin definitely has room for improvement - a nightmare scenario for opponents.

"We still think he has plenty of upside," Clarkson said.

"His development is going to come not so much (in) his ability to become even more potent as a forward, but just maybe the flexibility within the side.

"He's got so many attributes - six foot six and over 100kg, he could play in the midfield at some point or across half-back.

"They're some of the things we'd like to explore with him over the course of the season.

"His development is probably going to come by being more versatile and (make him) more difficult and less predictable to match up on."

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