HAWTHORN coach Alastair Clarkson is delighted that Lance Franklin back to his dominating best.

It's a statement you might have expected from Clarkson in the first 182 games of Franklin's career, when he made the unbelievable seem remarkably easy and helped deliver the Hawks two premierships.

Not so much now as Franklin prepares to face Hawthorn for the sixth time, having shifted to the Sydney Swans on a nine-year contract at the end of the 2013 season.

But in a week that has hammered home the importance of health, Clarkson is genuinely thrilled to see Franklin fit and firing.

A mental health condition forced Franklin to take a break from football in 2015, when he missed the Swans' straight-sets exit from the finals.

The superstar is now back to his best, leads the Coleman medal race with 39 goals and looms as the man most likely to spoil Hawthorn's hopes of victory at the MCG on Friday night.

Match preview: Hawks v Swans

"He's been in fabulous form and it's good to see. He went through a battle of his own in the off-season," Clarkson said on Thursday, having spoken at length about Jarryd Roughead's cancer diagnosis.

"And that'll probably be ongoing for a time as well.

"So it's good to see him playing good footy again, we're really pleased with that. We just hope he doesn't play too well tomorrow night."

Franklin's record against his former club is not as fearsome as his overall average of 3.23 goals a game.

The 29-year-old has managed 12 goals from five matches against the Hawks, winning two of them.

But Franklin has never been in such strong form at the Swans, and Clarkson knows all too well how capable he is of single-handedly busting a game open.

"We know Bud pretty well. That doesn't always mean we get it right when we play against them," the four-time premiership coach said.

"He's such a beacon. He's such a good player ... so many times he delivers.

"They're winning games of footy and they're playing a really potent brand."

Clarkson suggested the key to stopping Franklin - and winning the crunch clash that will shape the top four - was to shut down the Swans' engine room.

"They've been averaging more inside-50s than any team in the competition. If he gets a lot of supply it might be tough for us," he said.

Meanwhile, Cyril Rioli will return for the Hawks, having missed their last-start win over Fremantle after travelling to the Northern Territory for family reasons.

Buddy's battles with the Hawks

Round eight, 2014 - The first time
Franklin booted a staggering seven behinds before finding his radar when it mattered most at ANZ Stadium. Kicked two final-quarter goals as the Swans ran away with the game to win by 19 points.

Round 18, 2014 - The homecoming
Another tight match, another case of the yips. Franklin finished with 3.5 at the MCG, where Hawthorn won by 10 points and the crowd booed the every step of their former favourite son.

Grand Final, 2014 - The kiss goodbye
Hawthorn crushed its rivals by 63 points. Franklin managed four goals in the lopsided loss, while a running battle with Luke Hodge ended when his former captain planted a kiss on Franklin's cheek.

Round eight, 2015 - The donut
Since the start of the 2007 season, Franklin has only been held goalless on 10 occasions. This was one of them but the Swans won an MCG thriller by four points.

Round 16, 2015 - The rout
The Hawks confirmed they were on track for a third straight flag in an 89-point thumping at ANZ Stadium. Franklin kicked three goals in as many minutes but the hosts couldn't mount a serious fightback in what was Franklin's fourth last game of the year.