If Lance Franklin’s long-awaited injury comeback is half as successful as that of Isaac Heeney, Sydney have every reason to feel bullish about this AFL season.
Franklin (hamstring) and Heeney (ankle) were sorely missed for the majority of 2020, when the Swans finished 16th amid an injury crisis.
Heeney returned in round one, exceeding his and the club’s expectations while booting three goals in an upset win over Brisbane.
Franklin, who has played just one AFL game in the past 21 months, is set to tackle Adelaide at the SCG on Saturday.
Heeney, speaking before the Swans trained at the SCG for the first time this year, backed the four-time Coleman medallist to return with a bang.
“When he runs out there, we all stand taller. We’re excited,” Heeney said on Wednesday.
“There’s something about Buddy. Even when he comes to training, he brings that energy and confidence.
“All you do is get him the ball and let him do the rest.
“We can’t wait to have him back. Hopefully he’ll back a bag.”
Franklin and wife Jesinta welcomed the birth of their second child, a boy, on Wednesday.
The 34-year-old superstar’s nine-year contract expires at the end of the 2022 season.
The Swans have already started planning for life after Franklin, as evidenced by selecting key forward Logan McDonald with pick No.4 in last year’s draft.
McDonald booted three goals against the Lions at the Gabba, where he and Heeney stood up as Sydney’s new-look forward line proved their potency without Franklin.
“We’ve got a widespread group of players that have been hitting the scoreboard,” Heeney said.
“If we continue to do that, we don’t have to use Bud every time.
“That will offer up different avenues to goal and more challenges for the opposition. We have been Buddy focused in previous years, but we’ll see how we go this weekend. Hopefully not.”
Heeney has been suitably impressed with McDonald.
“I love how angry Logan gets when he doesn’t get something right. It shows he wants to improve every session,” he said.
Heeney has pulled up well and is confident there will be no lingering issues with his ankle throughout this year.
“I’m a lot further ahead compared to where I thought I’d be at this stage of the year,” the young gun said.
“I went into the game with it in the back of my mind … I was stoked with it and can go into this week not thinking about it, just playing.”