FOUR-TIME Coleman medallist Lance Franklin isn't there yet, but VFL/AFL games record-holder Brent Harvey believes the Sydney superstar is closing the gap on his old teammate Wayne Carey.
Franklin clinched his fourth League goalkicking award with 10 majors against Carlton in round 23 and was named All Australian a few days later, matching the North Melbourne champion's magical mark of seven representative jackets.
The Swan sits 10th on the all-time goalkickers list with 856 majors, opposed to Carey's 727, with both men dual premiership players and inside the top 10 for finals goals.
In Sydney to launch the 2017 finals series this week, Harvey said he had been asked to compare Franklin with his former captain in the past and brushed off the suggestion, but admitted that those doubts are gone and the West Australian has the ability, record and on-field presence to rival the Kangaroos' Team of the Century skipper.
"Three or four years ago I used to think he wasn't as good as Wayne because Wayne did it for such a long period of time and (I wondered) whether 'Buddy' could do that or not," he said.
"But clearly he's done it now and if he maintains it for the next two or three years then he's going to be sitting right alongside Wayne Carey as one of the best forwards ever to play our game.
"I was lucky enough to play with Wayne and you'd just look up and know that if you can get the ball in there enough times he'll kick a winning score.
"I'm sure it's the same with the Swans, they won't rely on 'Buddy' to do it but they'll certainly walk taller."
Harvey said Franklin's bag against the Blues wasn't just a throwaway game against a battling side – it was a feat that will inspire the Swans to maintain their incredible form during September.
"It's pretty good to have a forward kick 10 goals leading into the finals," he said.
"His confidence will be high and the boys' confidence will be high kicking it in to him and knowing he can get the job done.
"He's a freak; he kicks them on the deck, he can take marks, he can do it all, so it's a great asset to have up forward."
Franklin is undoubtedly the Swans' marquee man and vital to their hopes of winning their first flag since 2012 – after losing the 2014 and 2016 Grand Finals – and while Harvey rates them as the team to beat this year, the electric forward isn't the sole reason.
"I think Sydney is the best team in the competition because they have 21 or 22 contributors most weeks," he said.
"For me, that’s how you win finals by having everyone in the same ballpark.
"As soon as you start carrying four or five players, that’s when teams struggle in finals because it's a totally different ballgame and (the intensity) goes up another level."