SYDNEY Swans star Lance Franklin has made the most significant football-related step in his comeback to the game with a solid four-quarter effort in the club's first intra-club match of the season on Friday.
Franklin sensationally walked away from the Swans on the eve of last year's finals series to seek treatment for a non-specified mental health issue, but returned in early December and has barely missed a day of pre-season training.
The triple Coleman medallist spent most of the hit-out opposed to young key defender Aliir Aliir and received a rousing reception from the Swans' faithful when he gathered the ball in front of the grandstand for his first touch at Henson Park in Sydney's inner west.
The former Hawk covered plenty of territory and although he wasn't always effective, Franklin presented well up the ground, and even spent time in at a centre bounce in the second half.
Coach John Longmire said he was extremely happy with Franklin's performance.
"He was running rarely well right through the midfield area and was able to get his hands on the footy plenty of times in that first two and a half quarters," he said.
"He looked sharp and quick and got across the ground really well."
Youngster Isaac Heeney starred and showed no signs of the knee tendinitis that has limited his pre-season with a lively opening term in which he kicked two goals opposed to veteran Nick Smith.
Isaac Heeney and Dean Towers celebrate a goal during the Swans intra-club match. Picture: AFL Media
The 19-year-old has been managed through his second summer in the AFL, but was dangerous across half-forward, his second goal a brilliant passage of play when he turned Smith inside out in the forward pocket, before snapping truly.
Heeney told AFL.com.au that he was rapt to find some touch after a somewhat limited pre-season.
"I haven't done as much training as I would have liked to have, but it's good to get out here and see that my hands are still 'on'," he said.
"Obviously I still have some work to do, but hopefully I can continue to improve that area."
Versatile big man Sam Reid didn't play at all in the second half after feeling some tightness in his hamstring, but Longmire said he was taken off only as a precaution.
Versatile big man Sam Reid played the opening half as he continues to work his way back to full fitness after a serious hamstring injury ended his 2015 season during the finals.
Boom draftee Callum Mills showed plenty of class and composure off half back opposed to Tom Mitchell and Harry Cunningham, with fellow first year player Tyrone Leonardis equally effective at the opposite end also in defence.
Star midfielders Josh Kennedy, Tom Mitchell, Kieren Jack and Luke Parker all got their hands on plenty of possessions in sunny conditions, with recruits Michael Talia and Callum Sinclair impressive in their new colours.
Co-captain Jarrad McVeigh, dual All Australian Dan Hannebery, defender Ted Richards and speedster Ben McGlynn were among the Swans to miss the club's first full competitive match in 2016.