The Courier-Mail

BUDDY DROPS A BOMBSHELL

Star forward’s mental health issues force a sideline stint

- TAYLOR AUERBACH

AFL superstar Lance “Buddy” Franklin has dropped a bombshell on the eve of the finals series, sidelining himself to deal with a “mental health” condition.

The shock announceme­nt from the Sydney Swans came just days after their $10 million star forward collapsed during a fit at a Bondi cafe.

Buddy’s fiancee, the Gold Coast’s former Miss Universe Australia and television star Jesinta Campbell, was in the Qantas lounge at Sydney Internatio­nal Airport preparing to fly to Japan to film segments for Getaway when she heard news of the fit.

A source claimed she saw Ms Campbell burst into tears after receiving a voicemail about the incident. The woman said the 24-year-old TV presenter “got really upset and started crying”.

She claimed to overhear a conversati­on about “a seizure of some sort. And that it wasn’t the first time it t had happened”.

Franklin was rushed d to St Vincent’s Hospital after he went into a suspected seizure about 7.30am on Friday during his daily morning coffee e run. He was taken to o St Vincent’s Hospital and the Swans issued a statement revealing that Franklin suffered from “mild epilepsy” – a condition they claim is unrelated to his ongoing mental health concerns.

The 28-year-old scored just one goal on a lacklustre night by his high standards on Saturday, playing his second game after a lengthy stint on the sidelines due to back and rib injuries.

Swans coach John Longmire did not talk about Friday’s seizure but detailed the mental health dramas plaguing their star signing.

“It’s a serious condition that he needs to spend some time away from the football club,” Longmire said. “He won’t be playing this week.

“It’s a condition that is very treatable but it needs time to be able to address it.”

Franklin suffered a suspected seizure prior to the 2014 season, while last April he crashed his luxury Jeep into a line of parked cars.

AFL star Lance Franklin is facing the toughest battle of his life, forced out of the Sydney Swans’ finals campaign amid revelation­s he is grappling with his mental health.

The footy world has rallied around the game’s biggest star as the full extent of the “Buddy” predicamen­t was yesterday revealed.

The Swans said Franklin’s wellbeing was the club’s No.1 priority, confirming he had also suffered from mild epilepsy and had collapsed with a seizure at a Bondi cafe last week.

It raised questions over why the power forward was made to play against the Gold Coast last weekend, when he had been hospitalis­ed following the seizure a day earlier.

In a statement last night, the Swans said Franklin had been cleared to play and that the incident was unrelated to his mental health issues.

Not even Franklin’s closest mates were aware of how bad his health issues had become.

Fiancee Jesinta Campbell (pictured with Franklin, right), in Japan filming for a TV show, is understood to be on her way back to Australia to be by her partner’s side.

She was spotted crying on the phone at Sydney airport after receiving news that Franklin had collapsed at the cafe last week.

The footballer was rushed to hospital but later released.

Franklin will miss the qualifying final clash against Fremantle on Saturday.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan was only informed of Franklin’s health situation yesterday.

Former Hawthorn teammate Jordan Lewis, who will be in Franklin’s wedding party at the end of the season, tried to contact Franklin after learning of his troubles via the media.

Coach John Longmire said he was not sure when Franklin would play again.

“He’s very confident that he’s able to get the help required, but we’re not sitting here saying he’ll be back at this date, and I don’t think anyone’s expecting us to say that,” Longmire said.

“Put the football to one side. We need to understand and respect this is a challenge for him to deal with every day.

“This is a challenge for Lance that he’s going through but he’s got the best possible help and support.

“It is an issue in sport, it is an issue in the AFL and it is an issue in the community.

Longmire said Franklin’s condition was “serious but treatable’’.

Sydney co-captain Jarrad McVeigh said the news came as a shock to the players.

“Bud is in a place where he can get the best support at the moment,” he said.

“We talk about it as a group and we support it.

“That’s all we can do. It’s a private matter and one you don’t know too much about.”

“We’ve spoken about it as a group and as a football club. We respect Lance’s privacy.

“As teammates we care for him and we support him but we know we’ve got a big job ahead of us this week.

“People will say we can’t win this game ... but we’re confident in our ability that our footy will stand up. We’re strong enough mentally and a strong enough group to be able to cope with these things.

“We support him fully and we’ll do the right thing on the weekend.”

Swans football manager Tom Harley said the club’s top priority was for Franklin’s wellbeing.

“Our first priority is looking after Lance’s health,” Harley said.

“Lance has been open with the club about his condition and while we consider it a private medical matter, he is aware he has our full support.

“The time frame on his return is unclear at this stage. He will certainly miss this week’s match and we will continue to monitor his condition.”

It is the second time in two years that Franklin has been hospitalis­ed after a fit.

He was taken to hospital for observatio­n after he collapsed at his Bondi apartment two months before the start of last season.

 ??  ?? TIME OUT: Buddy Franklin and Jesinta Campbell on Instagram; and (inset) Franklin’s wrecked Jeep.
TIME OUT: Buddy Franklin and Jesinta Campbell on Instagram; and (inset) Franklin’s wrecked Jeep.
 ??  ?? HERE FOR YOU, BUD: Sydney coach John Longmire (left) and co-captain Jarrad McVeigh face the media yesterday.
HERE FOR YOU, BUD: Sydney coach John Longmire (left) and co-captain Jarrad McVeigh face the media yesterday.

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