The ‘telltale sign’ that Buddy's below his best
ST KILDA champion Nick Riewoldt says star forward Lance Franklin must be doing it tough both mentally and physically as he battles injury.
Sydney coach John Longmire revealed last week that the Swan was battling a heel injury, suffered in round one, and that he had "probably trained for about 20 minutes for the season".
Riewoldt said it wasn't just the injury that would affect the two-time premiership player, but also the mental side of Franklin's game.
"It's tough (to play under serious duress)," Riewoldt said on AFL 360.
"It's not necessarily the actually injury itself, but what that does to you mentally in the game, the doubts.
"I'm playing on a bloke like (Essendon's Michael) Hurley, who's quick, he's got great closing speed, I haven't trained all week so I'm not at my peak fitness-wise, so that's why he's been going for body. He doesn't usually try to initiate that contact, that's the lack of confidence.
"That's a telltale sign, you're searching for body before you have to."
Riewoldt also said it would be a tough if Franklin was unable to get over his lack of athleticism and the mental effects.
"It's the mental side of that. I always felt, because I had some incidents in the early part of my career, that really set me up for later in my career, as I thought physically I can do what I need to do for two hours," he said.
"Unless you've torn a hamstring - I can do what I need to do, mentally being able to put that stuff to the side ... but what happens if in grand final week it's like that.
"He's just a great athlete, but if he doesn't just have his athleticism and mentally can't get over that, then it's tough, it's really hard. We've all gone through it."
Despite Franklin's injury he has booted 44 goals this season, and Riewoldt believes the big forward is still in All-Australian contention.
"He's done a brilliant job (managing the injury). His last couple of weeks have been quiet, but other than that - he's in the All-Australian frame. If he has a great finish to the year, he's All-Australian."
Western Bulldogs great Bob Murphy agreed with Riewoldt, adding that a lack of training would be affecting Franklin's timing in the air.
"I reckon that's the first thing when I've missed, when you miss training, it's one thing to play with pain, so you've got that to deal with, but when you miss training - the first thing to go, and this is his bread and butter ... it's the flight of the ball," Murphy said.
"That little split second of when you get to the drop zone and the ball, that's what he's so good at - so to train 20 minutes a year, that would be eating away I think. That timing would be a little bit off."
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