(L-R) Luke Parker, Callum Mills, Lance Franklin, Josh Kennedy and Dane Rampe. Picture: sydneyswans.com.au

LANCE Franklin has achieved another first in his extraordinary career as he prepares for his 16th season in the AFL.

Franklin is the new face in Sydney's player-voted leadership group for 2020, joining co-captains Josh Kennedy, Luke Parker and Dane Rampe, as well as young gun Callum Mills.

The Swans have slashed the group from eight players to five, with retired pair Jarrad McVeigh and Nick Smith, Isaac Heeney and Tom Papley no longer involved. 

Papley unsuccessfully requested a move to Carlton in this year's Telstra AFL Trade Period.

Tom Papley during the Swans' Coffs Harbour training camp. Picture: AFL Photos

Franklin had never been in any leadership group – at the Swans or in his previous football life at Hawthorn – but has consistently been lauded for his work 

The 32-year-old was named skipper of the 2018 Virgin AFL All Australian team but that was considered a legacy selection in honour of his continued individual excellence.  

Sydney coach John Longmire said Franklin's leadership group inclusion was in recognition of his work behind the scenes, particularly with the club's young players. 


"Lance has been elevated by the players in recognition of the huge investment he has made in the team," Longmire said. 

"I've no doubt he will be a valuable addition to our leadership group." 

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The 300-game goalkicking champion played a personal-low 10 matches in 2019 but has returned this pre-season in terrific shape. 

"I'm as hungry as ever and I've got no doubt that if my pre-season continues like this that I'll have a strong year," Franklin told AFL.com.au last week

Some people might think otherwise but I still feel young and fresh, so we'll have to wait and see.

- Lance Franklin

Longmire was thrilled with his leadership group as a whole. 

"Josh, Luke and Dane did a wonderful job as co-captains in 2019, so we were keen to continue with that structure. They're all outstanding leaders who drive high standards," Longmire said.

"We have a number of emerging leaders across the team, and so while we have reduced the leadership group from eight members to five, opportunities and responsibilities will continue to present for others. 

"With nine new players and a new facility on the horizon we have a lot to be excited about in season 2020, so I'm looking forward to watching our players progress in the year ahead."