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Australia to rely on Buddy to reduce International Rules deficit

By Declan Bogue

Most of the pre-match build-up to the International Rules first test from the Australian side centred around an enigmatic sportsman that goes by the name of Lance; Lance 'Buddy' Franklin, the 6' 6", 16 stone giant.

This year, he won the AFL Premiership with Hawthorn, but his close-season move to Sydney Swans, signing a nine-year deal worth $10 million, has captured the headlines.

He hit three 'behinds' and one 'over' throughout the game, but his influence wasn't as great as Australia would have hoped.

The reason for that was the excellent attentions of Finian Hanley, and then Sean Cavanagh.

"I was marking Buddy Franklin there and you obviously just have to tag him because he is who he is," reflected Hanley.

"At the end of the day, he's a good ball player in any code."

Cavanagh was more mischievous in his assessment of marking Franklin, joking: "To be honest with you, I have come across a few big lumps like that. I played against Paul McGrane, Ciaran Whelan and lads like that.

"He's not so bad, I think I took him down a couple of times in the tackle, his bark might be worse than his bite.

"When you have been kicked around in Tyrone club football, and been double-teamed, you don't worry about it. I think the 10 million thing impresses you more than anything else."

While Aussie captain Danny Wells and manager Mick O'Loughlin have claimed they will try to persuade him to stay – with a prior engagement at a wedding back in Australia that Franklin instead intends to attend – they will definitely need him to claw back a 22-point deficit in Saturday's second test in Croke Park.

One thing Hanley is sure of is that Australia will need to bring their physical gifts into the equation.

"In the first game two years ago we won quite well and in the second test they came out fighting. I think they will add physicality.

"Adam Goodes could be on his way for the second test. He is obviously a very good ball player at this game. He will make a huge difference. We are ahead and it's all about pushing on and playing and not kind of sitting back."

He goes along with the theory that in general play, the Australians were mediocre apart from a short period in the third quarter in Cavan. "Croke Park should suit us but they will have improved a lot on the ball," Hanley explains.

"A lot of their passes went wayward and if they had tightened up they would have got good marks in the scoring."

Hanley also notes that despite the lack of entertainment from last Saturday night, they can only fulfil their side of the bargain.

"It's hard to watch as well for the spectators, but we can only look at ourselves and do what we can."

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