Nine years may be just the beginning for Franklin

31-year-old Sydney Swans superstar forward Lance Franklin is showing no signs of slowing down, entering the 5th year of his mammoth 9 year, $10 million contract with the Swans.

Integral to the Swans chances of AFL Premiership success, the 4-time Coleman medalist laid to rest any fears over minor ankle and knee procedures in the off-season with a strong JLT campaign.

"I had both knees cleaned up at the end of (last) year and then I had my ankle (operated on) but everything has run really well and I've recovered great," Franklin told Channel 7.

"Everything is going really well, so I'll be right to play round one."

Going from strength to strength under the guidance of AFL goals record holder and Brownlow medalist Tony Lockett, and 4-time Premiership forward Johnson, Franklin may well stay with the Swans beyond his current contract.

Swans outgoing CEO Andrew Ireland, architect of the pioneering long term deal that saw Fitzroy full forward Alastair Lynch move to the Brisbane Bears in 1993, says he wouldn't be surprised if Franklin played on after 2022.

I sometimes joke with Lance about that (a contract extension)," Ireland said.

Longevity, robustness are key to a players' ability to last in the game, and given his extremely athletic and powerful style of play, the seven time All Australian has played 50 games in a row since 2015.

"When we did the Alastair Lynch (Brisbane) deal and he signed for 10 years, I wouldn't have thought he would have signed an extension at the end of it, and he did," Ireland said.

Lynch was 26 when he signed the 10-year contract with the Brisbane Lions, and extended another year in 2003 so that he could play in the Lions' fourth consecutive grand final in 2004.

Franklin will be 35 when his contract finishes, but one quality that Ireland believes is key to longevity is the a genuine love of the game.

"There's a long way to go yet, but Lance genuinely loves playing footy," Ireland said.

Another thing in his favour, and certainly of benefit to the Swans, is his salary, which will be proportionally lower when the next collective bargaining agreement comes into effect in three years time.

"What we always thought would happen did, when the salary cap went up," Ireland said.

"Proportionally, Lance's pay has become less as the cap moves."

Essendon's Dustin Fletcher played his 400th game of AFL football at the age of 40, and AFL games record holder Brent Harvey was 38 when he played his 432nd match.

Franklin still has a long way to go to match those records, but it's possible he will become not only the Indigenous AFL games record holder, but one of the greatest players in history.

The four-time Swans leading goal kicker sits 10th on the all time AFL goal kicking table, 14 goals behind 9th place Peter McKenna, and has a chance to move into 7th overall this season if he maintains his 3 goals per game average.

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Justin Mitchell

Justin is a passionate AFL and Sydney Swans supporter, and football blogger since 2016. All articles are of his own opinion. You can reach him by twitter and Facebook at @theswansblog

Melbourne, Australia

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