AFL: The frightening news for opposition defenders is Hawthorn star Lance Franklin feels he has plenty of room for improvement in the AFL finals series.
Franklin has made a strong return after six weeks on the sidelines due to injury, kicking four goals in each of the Hawks’ last three games.
Collingwood defender Chris Tarrant was as combative as he could be on Franklin in Friday night’s qualifying final, but the Hawthorn key forward still had an influence.
Hawthorn’s 38-point win over the Magpies means they have a week off before hosting Adelaide or Fremantle in a preliminary final.
Either opponent will probably be without a key defender to help play on Franklin – Crows’ Rising Star winner Daniel Talia has a broken forearm and Dockers backman Luke McPharlin is recovering from a hamstring injury.
“Personally, there’s still a lot of improvement – I think I haven’t put together a four-quarter performance,” Franklin said.
“I’ve probably had one or two quarters here and there.
“It would be good just to get four quarters under my belt and play some consistent football.
“So I’m really looking forward to the next week.”
Franklin had no problems with Tarrant’s aggression on Friday night, saying it was a fair contest.
“It was a good little battle, we’ve played against each other for a number of years and I enjoyed it,” Franklin said.
He fronted the media on Monday alongside fellow Hawks star Cyril Rioli, who played a full game after being a substitute the week before.
“The legs and body are fine, it’s good to get back and have a full game,” Rioli said.
“It was a bit hard, being a sub last week.”
While the Hawks will appreciate the break, Rioli admitted he would rather be playing this weekend.
“I think the boys would love to be playing this week,” he said.
“Having the week off, with footy, it’s a bit difficult – other teams are playing.”
Rioli also praised team-mate Brendan Whitecross, who is out for several months after injuring his knee against Collingwood.
Whitecross made an extraordinary effort to be upbeat with his team-mates at the end of Friday’s match.
“‘Whitey’ is a good fella, he gets around the boys and it’s pretty sad to see him go down,” Rioli said.
“I’m pretty close to him, because we were drafted in the same year – it’s going to be pretty shattering for him.
“He’ll be trying to do everything he can to help his team-mates.”
Hawthorn were without Jordan Lewis and Clinton Young for Friday’s win, but Rioli is confident they will return for the preliminary final.