Can Lance Franklin beat Josh Kennedy to another Coleman Medal?

Lance Franklin was at his brilliant best in Round 1 when he put the West Coast Eagles defence to the sword, kicking eight goals in the Swans’ opening day victory in Perth.

He terrorised young Eagles defender Tom Barrass, veteran Will Schofield and highly rated centre-half back Jeremy McGovern en-route to registering the highest number of Round 1 goals kicked this century.

West Coast had no answer and couldn't stop him. Even rival fans had to applaud the sheer virtuosity exhibited by Franklin, who looks an early favourite for a fifth Coleman Medal.

Despite the Swans falling short against Port Adelaide in Round 2, the superstar forward booted another four goals, taking his early season tally to 12.

The seven-time All-Australian claimed the accolade last season when he booted 69 regular season goals, plus four in the finals.

It was his fourth Coleman Medal spanning a glorious career that has propelled him into the list of the top 10 goal kicking players of all-time.

He has kicked more goals than any other current player, but many expected a ferocious two-horsed race between Franklin and Eagles star Josh Kennedy in the Coleman Medal stakes this year.

After all, Kennedy beat him to the award in 2015 and 2016, and they have now shared the last four between them.

At the start of the year, they were neck-and-neck in the betting to claim the honour, but a knee injury suffered by Kennedy ahead of the new season could well have blown his chances.

Kennedy has so far missed the first two Rounds of the season, and is not expected to return until Round 5.

“I’m hoping round four or five now,” Kennedy said.

“Obviously with the knee we had to get a little bit of foreign body taken out but that was only a week-and-a-half setback.”

By that point Franklin could be a dot on the horizon in this race and Kennedy would not have a great chance of making up lost ground.

The bookmakers have adjusted their odds accordingly and Franklin is now the $2.10 favourite to win a fifth Coleman Medal this year. That puts him comfortably ahead of the next player in the list, Jeremy Cameron at $5.50.

Next up is Tom Lynch (GC) at $8, Joe Daniher at $10, and only then do you come to Kennedy, who has slipped to $18. That is a pretty emphatic vote of confidence in Franklin’s ability.

If you check the odds on, you will see that the Swans are still one of the premiership favourites along with Greater Western Sydney, Richmond and Adelaide.

Last season’s 73-goal haul was hugely impressive in the grand scheme of things, but Franklin has enjoyed far more prolific seasons than that during his magnificent career.

He registered 81 in 2016, 79 in 2014, 82 with Hawthorn in 2011 and a massive 113 in 2008. Last season, Cameron could only manage 45, and his highest ever tally was 63 in 2015.

Daniher enjoyed a strong season last time around, scoring his highest ever number of goals, but Franklin still edged him to win the Coleman Medal.

That is despite playing in a struggling team that went 0-6 before waking up from its slumber.

This time around with Franklin in ominous early-season form, it would take a phenomenal effort from any of his rivals to stop him achieving more individual glory this year.

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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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