HAWTHORN forward Jarryd Roughead says he will always love Lance Franklin, even if his close friend and teammate chooses to leave the club at the end of this season.
Roughead, Franklin and Jordan Lewis were selected by the Hawks with picks two, five and seven respectively at the 2004 NAB AFL Draft, and have been inseparable since.
Roughead signed a contract extension with Hawthorn earlier this year, saying he had no desire to test the free agency market. (He could have become a free agent at the end of 2014.)
But he said he had not tried to convince Franklin, who has put off contract talks, to do the same.
"It's one of those things you don't talk about," Roughead told AFL.com.au this week.
"What are you going to do? Try and sell the fact that we've been good and that we're mates?
"I think he understands that we're going to love him no matter what.
"If he was to go, he's given nine years and kicked nearly 600 goals.
"I think most teams would be happy if their number five draft pick came in and did that."
With the Hawks sitting atop the ladder with 14 wins from 16 matches, Roughead said the constant swirl of attention around Franklin's future was not impacting the club's focus.
"We don't have to worry about it until October 31 when his contract runs out," Roughead said.
"We all know he's committed until then, and he's said he'll make his mind up then.
"I haven't had an issue with it since.
"It gets the public talking, but he's fine with it and we're all comfortable with it."