Lance Franklin has marked his return to the AFL after nearly 600 days with a long bomb from outside 50 – after being told to play on by the umpire.

Alongside the 2021 season’s new ‘stand’ rule for the man on the mark came questions surrounding how the umpires would adjudicate Buddy’s natural kicking arc.

And it took just 20 minutes for the answer to arrive.

Franklin marked on the lead and, as he ran in from 60 metres out, he was called to play on.

Adelaide Crows defender Jordon Butts quickly rushed at Franklin but the kick sailed through for a comfortable goal.

“They did call play on, even though it was his natural arc,” Brisbane Lions great Jonathan Brown said on Fox Sports.

“I’m not sure, a little bit of double standards there.

“They haven’t been calling play on but anyway the umpires may have tightened up on that in round two.

“But that was fantastic. He probably didn’t need the run-up and play on anyway because he can kick it 60 metres!”

Franklin had not played since the last round of 2019 after battling groin and calf injuries.

But he was finally picked to play, with his return coming just days after wife Jesinta gave birth to their second child – a son named Rocky.

Buddy Franklin celebrated his return to the AFL with a long bomb from outside 50.
Buddy Franklin celebrated his return to the AFL with a long bomb from outside 50. Credit: Getty
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