Emerging Sydney AFL speedster Harry Cunningham has praised Lance Franklin’s teaching qualities.
One of the babies of the Swans side at 20, fleet-footed midfielder-small forward Cunningham is the Swans’ second highest goalkicker this season behind Franklin.
After kicking one goal in each of Sydney’s first two losses, he booted three – two of them early on – in their round three win over Adelaide.
Cunningham acknowledged Franklin’s ability to draw multiple defenders benefited other Swans forwards.
“He’s a massive asset and I suppose he creates a bit of havoc for the other teams, which is good for us,” Cunningham said.
“He’s very good for myself as well when I’m playing forward line.
“He’s very instructional. He’s always communicating. It makes it a lot easier for me when I’m out there.”
Asked if Franklin’s advice included being ordered to stay out of his way, Cunningham laughed and said: “Nothing like that.”
Cunningham and fellow youngsters Tom Mitchell, 20, and Luke Parker, 21, have been among the leading lights in the Swans this year, after each had an outstanding pre-season.
On Sunday, Cunningham will line up against one of the players he followed through his childhood, North Melbourne veteran Brent Harvey.
He was just two years old when Harvey made his AFL debut in 1996.
“I actually grew up following North Melbourne,” Cunningham said.
“Coming from Wagga, I loved watching Wayne Carey and Brent Harvey was actually one of my favourite players.
“In my first year I actually got to play on him in the NAB Cup and it was pretty surreal to run beside him.
“He’s had an amazing career and he’s still got it, so we’re definitely going to have to look out for him this weekend.
“I still look to him now and he’s always someone you can look up to anyway, even though he is on another team.”
Cunningham felt another veteran with plenty still to give was his Sydney teammate Ryan O’Keefe, who was omitted from the team for the first round, before getting a late reprieve when Kieren Jack withdrew.
“Ryan has still definitely got a place to play in this side this year,” Cunningham said.
“Whether it’s on or off the field, he’s massive to us and he’ll continue to be that for the rest of the year and however long he needs to play.”