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The deal seemed preposterous, but the Swans are getting value for money from Buddy Franklin

Email The deal seemed preposterous, but the Swans are getting value for money from Buddy Franklin By Offsiders columnist Richard Hinds

Posted April 09, 2018 04:44:36

Photo: Franklin's thumping 65-metre goal against the Giants was show-stopping. (AAP: David Moir) Related Story: Sydney can't just surf the Buddy wave to victory Related Story: Power charge past Swans as Eagles thump Dogs on Easter Sunday Map: Sydney 2000

With little more than five minutes to play at the SCG on Saturday night, the Sydney Swans cling to a 10-point lead over the Greater Western Sydney Giants in a tense, fiercely contested game.

It is the type of taut encounter needed to add credibility to the so-called Battle of the Bridge. A meeting that was, in its initial versions, a rivalry only in the PowerPoint presentations of the AFL's enthusiastic marketing executives.

From a scrimmage in the middle of the ground, Lance Franklin gets on the end of a handball. Instinctively, he dismisses a hapless Giants' opponent with his big right paw and wields onto his left foot.

External Link: Tweet: Buddy Franklin

The turning circle is so familiar it has a nickname — Buddy's Arc. As Franklin gathers momentum and swallows up the ground there is no chance anyone will impede his stampede. The result seems preordained, a thumping 65m kick that lands precisely between the goal posts.

The Swans have the game won. The one-sided crowd is ecstatic. Later coach John Longmire will be at pains to share the praise and deflect attention from Franklin's starring role. But as they head for the exits, the fans will talk about just one thing. That goal!

It is tempting to describe Franklin's latest show-stopping feat as a moment that money can't buy. But, of course, even the greatest sporting romantic must acknowledge the transactional element in his performances.

The covert $10.2 million operation that brought Franklin to (eastern) Sydney from Hawthorn will always be part of his epic tale.

Yet by matching his undoubted brilliance with unexpected longevity, he is providing an ending those of us who were sceptical about the nine-year deal never imagined.

External Link: AFL tweet: Enjoy all of Lance Franklin's eight goals from Sydney's strong win over the Eagles

Andrew Ireland, the Swans' savvy chief executive, will retire this season. When Ireland signed Franklin in late 2013 after months of secret negotiations, the length of the deal seemed even more preposterous than the eight-figure price tag.

Franklin was 27 when he arrived in Sydney. He will be 36 when he collects the last of his vast annual pay cheques.

Plagued by thumb and shoulder injuries when he arrived in Sydney, it seemed certain Ireland had paid for a Rolls Royce but would leave his successor with a V8 Commodore with 200,000 kilometres on the clock. A limping salary cap liability that would compromise the club's future.

Yet here we are nearing the halfway mark of Franklin's contract and he is playing better than at any stage of his Swans career.

In the opening round against West Coast in Perth he kicked eight goals and, most encouragingly, took several pack marks, the one element that had been missing from his game.

Lance Franklin gestures to the crowd after kicking a goal for Sydney Photo: In the opening round against West Coast, Franklin kicked eight goals and took several pack marks. (AAP: Travis Anderson)

Is Franklin actually underrated?

Such is Franklin's durability that The Age's chief football writer, Jake Niall, recently pondered whether a man who is a seven time All-Australian and four time Coleman Medallist is actually underrated by the football pundits.

As midfielders who have more possession but far less impact on contests line up to collect Brownlow Medals and the various media awards while Franklin is overlooked, it is hard to disagree with Niall's thesis.

There is no question Ireland got value for money. A contract that guaranteed Franklin $700,000 in his first two seasons, $1.2 million in his next three and then $1.3 million, $1.4 million, $1.5 million and $1 million could never be described as a bargain.

External Link: AFL tweet: BUDDY! Can he inspire the Swans? #AFLSwansPower

But, at the very least, the Franklin deal can now be compared to a seemingly outrageous price paid for a house that has continued to increase in value. If $10.2 million was jaw-dropping in 2013, it is merely market price now.

And this is without considering the enormous value Franklin has provided at the turnstile and the merchandise stalls from the moment he walked through the club's front door. If the Swans are the House That Plugger Built, then Buddy has added another wing.

There have been a couple of times when the Franklin deal seemed on a knife-edge. The injuries and depression that forced him out of the Swans team during the 2015 finals had many wondering if things had come unstuck. Although, pertinently, not coach Longmire, whose handling of his team's star forward as a person, not merely a prime asset, has been exemplary.

Inevitably, however, Franklin's publicity-shy off-field persona — he is Lance off the ground, while his alter-ego Buddy pulls on the boots — has only added another layer of intrigue to his performances.

So now there is just one thing missing before the Franklin deal can be hailed as an unqualified success. Buddy's Flag.

The inability to win a premiership with the game's best forward has not been for want of opportunity. In the 2016 grand final against the Western Bulldogs, Franklin was injured in the opening minutes and the Swans did not have the rub of the green (or they were robbed by the men in green if the dark mutterings of some officials and fans were to be believed.)

Sydney needs more than Buddy


Lance Franklin is a freak of sporting nature but he will need help to get Sydney Swans over the line in 2018, writes Andrew McGarry.

Losing their first six games last season meant the Swans needed a tremendous effort to reach the finals. The exertion required to make up lost ground left them as sitting ducks in September.

This time? If Franklin's brilliance inflames expectations, it is the club's excellent youngsters such as Callum Mills, Will Hayward and Oliver Florent who are the fuel on the fire.

Yet again, the Swans have regenerated while still peeking through the premiership window.

It would be poignant if the Swans were to meet the Giants in this year's grand final — the most exciting player in the game against the new franchise that was infuriated when Franklin went to their cross-town rivals behind their backs.

Not a grand final the scalpers would want, but one for contemporary connoisseurs.

Lance Franklin tackles Joel Hamling in the AFL grand final Photo: The one thing Franklin still has to give the Swans is a grand final win, after being injured out of the 2016 game against the Western Bulldogs. (AAP: Julian Smith)

Topics: sport, australian-football-league, sydney-2000, nsw, australia

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CPA call on fixture motion to be backed

CPA chairman Micheál Briody has called on all Central Council delegates to support a motion for an immediate review to be conducted on the GAA annual fixture list.

The motion, put forward by Roscommon GAA, is on the agenda for the meeting of the GAA’s main decision-making group, and the club player representative body want to see it passed.

CPA chairman Micheál Briody said: "It is no surprise that Roscommon GAA have stepped forward to say enough is enough, someone had to say stop sooner or later. It is a fairly serious matter when a county committee feels they need to step in and plead for common sense to prevail.

"For almost two years now the CPA has called for an immediate 'blank canvas' approach to fixing the fixtures.

"Some progress has been made but the lack of real urgency is not acceptable in our view. Behind the recent ESRI and CPA findings and submissions are the lives of young sports people.

"Years and sports careers pass very quickly as this report actually highlights. This in our view places an enormous requirement and responsibility for leadership and decisive action."

The introduction of Tier 2 football competitions is also on the agenda and Briody feels the structure of fixtures needs to be addressed before introducing new competitions.

He added: "We are witnessing a number of alarming developments in the GAA. We were told that no change to the playing calendar could be considered for three years yet here we are with two proposals on the table for Tier 2 competitions in football.

"There is inherent value in a multi-tiered football structure but it beggars belief that this is being brought to the table as yet another incremental change that could sound the death knell for summer club football which is already practically extinct.

"This comes on the back of the GAA-sanctioned breaches of its own rules by allowing tournament matches involving Tier 1 hurling counties in Australia and the United States.

"In some respects yes, that is a matter for individual counties, but it sends out a message that the hierarchy is able to cherry pick its own rule book. One of the recent findings among players was that they needed a break."

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Euro 2020 draw: Seedings clearer after Nations League

Germany are set to be a second seed in the draw for Euro 2020 following the conclusion of the UEFA Nations League group stage tonight.

Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland will be third seeds as expected.

In the draw, the four teams in the final of the Nations League, Netherlands, England, Switzerland and Portugal, will be placed in a separate pot and drawn into Groups A–D which only have five teams.

The rest of the groups will have six teams with a team from each pot. Ireland could secure a play-off if failing to qualify automatically, but it is dependent on how many teams from Pot 4 and Pot 5 qualify. The top two from each group progress to the main tournament.

The play-off formula is semi-finals and final as opposed to the previous two-legged games

The draw is on Sunday 2 December in Dublin.

UEFA 2020 draw expected seedings:

Pot 1

France, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Portugal, Italy, Spain, England, Croatia and Poland.

Pot 2

Germany, Iceland, Russia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Austria, Wales, Denmark, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Sweden.

Pot 3

Slovakia, Turkey, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Israel, Finland, Norway, Serbia, Bulgaria, Scotland

Pot 4

Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Hungary, Estonia, Cyprus, Slovenia, Romania, Lithuania and Georgia.

Pot 5

Macedonia, Belarus, Kosovo, Luxembourg, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Gibraltar, Faroe Islands

Pot 6

Latvia, Liechtenstein, Andorra, San Marino, Malta

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Hayne reports for bail following aggravated sexual assault charge

Email Jarryd Hayne reports for bail following aggravated sexual assault charge By Mark Reddie

Updated November 21, 2018 00:57:18

Video: Rugby league star Jarryd Hayne leaves Ryde Police Station after being charged with aggravated sexual assault. (ABC News) Related Story: Jarryd Hayne surrenders passport after aggravated sexual assault charge Map: Castle Hill 2154

Rugby league star Jarryd Hayne has reported for bail after being charged with aggravated sexual assault of a woman in the New South Wales Hunter region.

Key points:

  • Hayne spent 10 minutes with police before dodging cameras
  • Alleged victim claimed the pair had non-consensual sex on NRL grand final night
  • She claimed she was badly bitten by Hayne during the encounter

The 30-year-old refused to answer questions from reporters when he was dropped off in a grey ute outside Castle Hill Police Station about 7:30pm on Tuesday.

The two-time Dally M award-winner spent 10 minutes with police before trying to dodge the cameras as he got back into the ute and drove off.

NSW Police confirmed the charge, which came after a 26-year-old woman lodged a complaint to the NRL Integrity Unit earlier this year.

The alleged incident occurred on September 30, on NRL grand final night, at a home in the NSW Hunter region after Hayne and the woman met via social media, police said.

The woman claims she was badly bitten and first reported the incident to the NRL, which then referred the matter to police.

Hayne was questioned at the Ryde Police Station on Monday afternoon and later charged with "aggravated sexual assault inflict actual bodily harm on victim".

Hayne had finished his current contract at the Parramatta Eels on October 31, however the club said they were continuing to provide welfare support.

An Eels spokesperson said as it was a criminal matter, the club would make no further comment.

Hayne was given conditional bail and is due to appear at Burwood Local Court on December 10.

According to court documents, his bail conditions included reporting to police three times a week and surrendering his passport.

Hayne is prohibited from entering international airports or the Newcastle local government area, and must not contact the woman or any witness.

Topics: rugby-league, sport, sexual-offences, law-crime-and-justice, castle-hill-2154

First posted November 20, 2018 22:30:34

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Joy for Scotland as win boosts Euro 2020 hopes

James Forrest scored a stunning Nations League hat-trick as Scotland overcame Israel 3-2 at Hampden Park to book a place in the play-off for the 2020 European Championship.

Alex McLeish's side need victory to leapfrog the visitors to the top of Group C1 but former Celtic midfielder Beram Kayal stunned the home support in the ninth minute when curled in a shot from 30 yards.

However, Hoops winger Forrest, who had scored his first two Scotland goals in the 4-0 win over Albania on Saturday, notched twice in the first half before grabbing a third in the 64th minute from close range with another assured finish.

Midfielder Eran Zahavi reduced the deficit with a fearsome drive in the 75th minute and – amid a nervy finish – only a great save from Scotland goalkeeper Allan McGregor denied the visitors a late equaliser.

Scotland finished with nine points from 12 and can park their play-off fixture until March 2020 and concentrate on the traditional European Championship qualifiers which take place in 2019, with the draw made on December 2 in Dublin.

It was an exhausting evening in the south side of Glasgow. Israel had been by far the better team when they beat the Scots 2-1 in Haifa last month.

However, due to a series of call-offs, it was a much-changed Scotland side which rekindled optimism by emphatically beating Albania 4-0 in Shkoder on Saturday night and McLeish kept the same starting line-up.

Hampden Park was only around half full on a wet and wild evening which appeared to dampen the ardour of the home side in the opening minutes when they fell behind.

Kayal's cross had been turned into his own net by Kieran Tierney for the winner in Israel but this time the goal was certainly his with the Brighton player taking a pass from Zahavi before firing high past McGregor.

The home side toiled at low tempo before midfielder Callum McGregor's dipping volley from 35 yards was tipped past the past by Israel stopper Ariel Harush.

The corner came to nothing but Scotland began to build momentum although their opponents remained threatening on the counter, demonstrated in the 32nd minute when Zahavi almost found striker Munas Dabbur with a whipped-in cross.

However, two minutes later – during another spell of pressure – Forrest was on hand to fire low past Harush from 12 yards after Stuart Armstrong's drive had been blocked.

The home fans came to life for the first time really and their mood was further lifted when midfielder Ryan Christie ran on to a Steven Fletcher header and played in Celtic team-mate Forrest who was again unerring in his powerful finish.

Fletcher headed a Forrest corner over the bar and McGregor drove over from distance as the Scots came out emboldened at the start of the second half.

However, Hampden Park quietened again but only until another incisive Scottish attack down the left which ended with Fraser cutting the ball back for Forrest to side foot in from eight yards.

It was still not over, however. An angled-drive from substitute Dia Seba – on for Dor Peretz – slid past the far post to serve as a warning before Zahavi thundered a 20-yard drive past the flailing McGregor.

The game became increasingly nervy and, with three minutes remaining, McGregor made a wonder save from another Israel substitute Tomer Hemed's close-range effort.

The Tartan Army cheered German referee Tobias Welz's final whistle after four added minutes with some gusto and can turn their attention to the European Championship qualifiers which begin next March, with the insurance policy of possibly qualifying through the Nations League route.

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Cahill given fitting farewell as Socceroos sweep Lebanon aside

Email Socceroos beat Lebanon 3-0 as Tim Cahill given farewell, Martin Boyle scores twice in Sydney

Updated November 20, 2018 22:39:58

Photo: Tim Cahill thanked his family, players, staff and the fans for their support in a fabulous Socceroos career. (AAP: Brendan Esposito) Related Story: As it happened: Boyle's brace sees Socceroos send Cahill off in style Map: Sydney 2000

Tim Cahill has made an emotional farewell to international football in Socceroos colours, with Australia running out 3-0 winners over Lebanon in Sydney.

Key points:

  • Tim Cahill makes last-ever appearance for Socceroos, coming on in 81st minute as a substitute in 3-0 win over Lebanon
  • Martin Boyle scores twice in first half before Mathew Leckie adds a third in the second stanza
  • Win over Lebanon was Socceroos' last run-out before the Asian Cup tournament in January in the UAE

Cahill was given a guard of honour by his teammates after full-time during a special presentation.

"This is the only time you're going to see me cry," Cahill said on the dais alongside his children.

"I want to say thank you firstly to my family for being there from day one.

"The sacrifices my family made for me is the reason why every time I step on that pitch, I'm fearless and free. Nothing I do can hurt me on the pitch, and everything I do is for my family.

"I want to thank my teammates and all the staff I've worked with. Without you guys I'd be nothing.

"The coaches that are not here, the players that are not here, thank you very much from the bottom of my heart.

"Now the most important people as well are the fans. It was tough for me to play for Australia at the start, but I tell you what every time I played with the green and gold I played with my heart.

"This is just as much for all of you as it is for me. Thank you very much Australia."

Tim Cahill stands with his family after final Socceroos match Photo: Tim Cahill stands with his family during the special presentation for him after full-time. (AP: Rick Rycroft)

A brace to Scotsman-turned-Australian Martin Boyle, and a brilliant second-half goal for Mat Leckie secured a win for the Socceroos in their last run-out before the Asian Cup in the UAE in January.

Boyle's first goal came midway through the first stanza, lashing home from distance with a fortunate deflection taking the ball beyond the keeper.

Martin Boyle scores for Australia against Lebanon Photo: Martin Boyle (left) scored a brace in just his second appearance for Australia. (AAP: Brendan Esposito)

The Scotsman would have been feeling more than happy with his change in national allegiance in the 42nd minute, prodding the ball home for his second goal after Milos Degenek's excellent header bounced back off the crossbar.

There were some light hearted moments from the bench as Cahill got the crowd going when the cameras spotted him tying his boots, with the cheers getting more raucous as he did his warm-ups.

Tim Cahill smiles as he warms up for Socceroos Photo: Tim Cahill was given tremendous cheers while warming up for his final ever Socceroos appearance. (AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

On the pitch, Leckie made it 3-0 as Boyle turned provider, putting in a low cross for Leckie to lash home emphatically.

The big moment came on the 81st minute when Cahill took his place on the pitch to replace Aaron Mooy, and there was nearly one more moment of magic to come.

Boyle's cross from the right looked perfectly floated and on a plate for Cahill's deadly noggin, only for a last gasp defensive header to rob him of a 51st goal for Australia.

External Link: Socceroos v Lebanon match summary

Topics: socceroos, soccer, sport, sydney-2000, nsw, australia, lebanon

First posted November 20, 2018 21:54:45

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