Hawks' Franklin makes sizzling return - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hawks' Franklin makes sizzling return

By Robert Grant 13/03/2009 08:31:27 PM Comments (0)

Hawthorn spearhead Lance Franklin made a sizzling return to football on Friday night, guiding the Hawks to an effortless win over West Coast in their AFL pre-season clash at Visy Park.

Franklin kicked 4.4 and picked up 26 possessions in his first match of the season as the reigning premiers cruised to a 13.21 (99) to 8.13 (61) victory.

He and star midfielder Luke Hodge were making highly anticipated returns and both proved they will again shore up the side's backbone this year.

Hodge collected 19 possessions behind skipper Sam Mitchell and Brad Sewell who each gathered 29.

Both sides struggled until half time when the Hawks led by just one point before Hawthorn broke free in the third term and held the Eagles to within one goal in the last quarter.

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson said Franklin, who is returning from shoulder surgery, was set to be fully fit for the round one clash against Geelong.

"He's done a lot of training, he hasn't done much contact work over the summer but he's been able to do a lot of the running work and in the last three or four weeks he's built up his body contact," Clarkson said.

"He's ready to go, he's fit and hungry and he's had a good pre-season.

"He's just had less body contact and marking contests in this pre-season than what he would have had in the last three years.

"That's not such a bad thing, he plays in a position that draws a lot of players towards him so to actually have a bit of spell with the body contact over summer probably won't hurt him too much."

Clarkson said the club played a wait-and-see approach with Franklin who played virtually the whole game, rather than protect him.

"Our plan was we'd see how it goes ... but he was feeling good and Andrew Russell, our fitness guy, thought it was best for him to keep pushing through.

"You can never worry about injuries in this game, you've just got to play the game and get them conditioned as best you can.

"He was going to be in better match condition for round one had he run the game out so it was a really good hit out for him."

Clarkson said he could see Franklin and a lot of other young players, including Cyril Rioli and Jarryd Roughead, improving even more this season.

"It will hopefully mean that we can continue to challenge in the top half of the ladder," he said.

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