Lance and Jesinta Franklin have celebrated the safe arrival of their second child just days before the Sydney Swans superstar plays his first AFL game in 579 days.
The Swans have confirmed Franklin is all set to line up against Adelaide this weekend, ending an injury-riddled passage that has kept him off the park since the last round of 2019.
Since then the Franklin family has grown from two, to three and now four.
Jesinta gave birth to daughter Tallulah in February 2020, with the toddler gaining a sibling this week.
“Our Baby boy has arrived,” Franklin shared on Instagram.
Crows veteran Taylor Walker, who will face off against Franklin on Saturday, joined rivals and teammates in celebrating the news.
“Congrats big fella,” Walker wrote.
Franklin spent a large portion of 2020 at home with Jesinta and their newborn during the AFL shutdown and his absence through injury.
“He’s extremely affectionate, and he’s very kind and caring, and I think Tallulah has brought that out in him even more,” Jesinta said in May last year.
“I think it’s really put a lot of things in perspective for both of us as well. We are quite career-driven individually and we place a lot of importance on our jobs, and that hasn’t changed since having Tallulah.
“We still want to do the best we can and be as professional as possible – but when you have a bad day or something goes wrong, you just look at her and she smiles at you, and everything fades away to the background.
“She is our number one priority now, and we live for those moments where even in isolation, it was so nice to have all that time with Buddy and all of us as a family of three.
“Those are the moments you live for, it is so magic – no matter how hard the night had been. And trust me, the nights are so bloody hard.”
Franklin, 34, has played just one game – his 300th AFL match – since July 2019 after being hindered by groin, hamstring and calf issues.
But he received the green light for an AFL return after playing one half of the Swans’ reserves game last Saturday.
“He pulled up fine, so we expect him to play this week,” coach John Longmire said on Monday.
“He’s done a lot of work and he’s been training for quite a while, so it will be good to get him back in the team.”
But Longmire said the high-tempo football on show in round one only confirmed the need to ease Franklin back into the top flight.
“We’re confident he’s done a fair bit of work, but there’s nothing like playing and as we all saw on the weekend,” he said.
“It’s a pretty solid game style that’s running around a the moment, up and back a lot.
“He definitely won’t play every week; we’ve got to make sure that we keep that working into him during the week, in the gym and physio and clearly that means not playing every week … even if he does go well and is feeling good.”
Franklin will slot back into a side full of confidence after they marched north to upset flag fancies Brisbane in the first round.
They quickly conceded the first three goals but then swamped Chris Fagan’s team, kicking 15 goals across the second and third quarters to run out 19.11 (125) to 14.10 (94) winners.
Debutants Errol Gulden (three goals and three assists from 19 touches), Logan McDonald (three goals) and Braeden Campbell (12 disposals) were standouts.