Sydney's Lance Franklin has had a big start to 2018. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Sydney's Lance Franklin has had a big start to 2018. Picture. Phil Hillyard

Could Buddy again kick a ton?

HE is the long-distance bomber who is in range from anywhere inside 70 metres.

Lance Franklin's latest matchwinner from beyond the 50m arc against the Giants on Saturday was nowhere near a fluke.

Since 2014 Franklin has kicked an incredible 66 goals from outside 50m, with daylight second among AFL rivals.

As the monster goals continue to rain down, former teammate Ben Dixon believes a perfect storm has emerged to give Franklin a genuine chance to top the ton for a second time in his glittering career.

Franklin has started the year with 14.3 as a new goalkicking routine takes hold.

He is also averaging a career-high 2.7 contested marks a game, better than the 2.6 he managed in his 113-goal season in 2008.

And while most seasons start with plentiful attack before the coaches crush quick and easy ball movement, even Damien Hardwick has predicted a new attacking trend this year.

Teams are moving the ball so quickly off halfback, defences cannot set up their zones, leaving the likes of Franklin room to move.

Lance Franklin kicks his huge goal against GWS. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Lance Franklin kicks his huge goal against GWS. Picture. Phil Hillyard

Franklin's ton came in a premiership year - a mammoth 113.88 as a hot 21-year-old.

He recently told the Herald Sun he was having so many shots he didn't really worry too much about maximising their impact.

Now with Sam Reid out injured for two months and Kurt Tippett retired, renowned goalkicking coach Dixon believes Franklin can again achieve the 100-goal milestone.

"He is a massive chance. Look at the way footy has been played in the first three weeks,'' Dixon said yesterday.

"With how fast the ball movement is and how the game is played on turnover, you have so much space when you are coming home and it plays into his hands.

"There is not so much emphasis on defence. His wheelhouse is anywhere from 70m in and you try to defend that guy who is 199cm and kicks them from anywhere.

"If he can kick 75 in a year where he doesn't kick massive bags, he has to be a chance this year."

A new trend might help Buddy have a ton of fun in 2018. Pic: AAP
A new trend might help Buddy have a ton of fun in 2018. Pic: AAP

Many of Franklin's best goals have been from 50m or longer - dancing over a pack of players in the MCG, the Etihad Stadium 2007 finals sealer, a 70m stunner in the Grand Final loss to Sydney in 2012.

Dixon says despite the idiosyncrasies of Franklin's goalkicking routine he has always had phenomenal power.

Now under the tutelage of Nick Davis and Tony Lockett he is eliminating his natural arc and the results are showing.

"From long range he looks magnificent. At the point of contact he never looks off balance, his hips are square, everything is pointing straight at the target,'' Dixon said.

"He doesn't look like missing. He has done so much work in the last few years. I love watching him. His routine doesn't change. He looks flawless.

"History suggests when you change something like your golf swing, you almost have to hit 1000 or 2000 balls to ingrain it.

"You practice and practice and then you nail it."

 

Lance Franklin's goal kicking outside 50m.
Lance Franklin's goal kicking outside 50m.

 

 

Buddy has started 2018 with some long-range bombs.
Buddy has started 2018 with some long-range bombs.


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