Roughead, Franklin friendship on hold for AFL grand final
AS 17-year-olds, Lance Franklin and Jarryd Roughead appeared destined to one day spearhead attacks at rival clubs.
With his side on track for a wooden spoon midway through 2004, then Hawthorn football director Dermott Brereton concocted a plan to send West Coast the No.1 pick in that season's draft for it to use on a promising kid from Perth going by the name "Buddy".
In return the Hawks would receive a 21-year-old Victorian who was yet to resign with the Eagles, Chris Judd.
The deal, of course, never eventuated, Judd inking a new contract and winning his first Brownlow Medal weeks later.
By draft time, though Franklin had slipped down the pecking order, the gangly forward with the booming left boot remained part of the Hawks' plans - as a player and not as trade bait - but not the big red-headed former basketballer from Gippsland.
Having been given priority picks, Richmond, Hawthorn and the Bulldogs were all armed with the first six selections in the draft.
The Tigers, who had eventually finished last, planned to take Brett Deledio at No.1 with the Hawks to welcome Richard Tambling at No.2, the club having flown the so-called "excitement machine" down from the Northern Territory to spend a few days with it in the lead-up.
But, during an 8am meeting, two hours before the draft would begin, the Hawks had a change of heart and delivered a shock when calling out Roughead's name first, before adding Franklin at No.5.
As newly installed senior coach, the diminutive Alastair Clarkson looked up to his "twin towers'' and explained: "It was an enormous decision to bypass the quality of the other talented players ... (but) tall guys with the talent of these two guys are hard to come across."
Clarkson could not have been more correct.
Born just seven days apart in January 1987, Franklin and Roughead grew side by side into absolute superstars, adding about 20kg to their own individual frames - and booting 946 goals in 366 games over the next nine years for the Hawks.
Their first head-to-head battle was to claim the Hawks' famous No.23 jumper, worn by Brereton and Don Scott.
Franklin got it, with Roughead ironically slipping into the No.2.
Their next will be to lead their respective teams to premiership glory, at opposite ends of the ground, as Franklin's Sydney takes on Roughead's Hawthorn this afternoon at the MCG.
There will be stars - superstars, rising stars, dimming stars - all over the park ... up forward, through the midfield, in defence.
But, make no mistake, Franklin and Roughead loom as the keys to their team's chances of success as the focal points of what are two highly-potent attacks.
They were back side by side in the All-Australian team announced last week, after Franklin narrowly reclaimed the title of Coleman medallist from guess who? Roughead.
Both were then best-afield in their team's preliminary final wins, Franklin kicking five goals (for a season's tally of 75), and Roughead six (and a total of 70) - as if to say "anything you can do, I can do better".
But they will both be desperate to have an impact this week, Franklin and Roughead having booted just six and four goals respectively in three previous grand final appearances.
"We're still going to be mates, but I suppose for two or three hours ... we probably won't be," Roughead said during the week, before cheekily pointing out how inaccurate Buddy had been against his old side. "We've played two games against him so far and he's kicked 4.11 I think," he said.
Proving a straight-shooter on this occasion, Franklin, who has in fact booted 5.12 (2.7 in the round-eight win and 3.5 in the round-18 defeat), responded with: "It's something that I've been working on and hopefully on Saturday I'll be able to convert. But, in saying that, we've got other forwards in the team that are able to kick the goals."
Franklin (196cm), of course, will be joined in attack by man-mountain Kurt Tippett (202cm), the athletic Sam Reid (196cm) and the great Adam Goodes (194cm) in his 351st game, presenting a tall order for Hawks backmen Josh Gibson (189cm), Brian Lake (195cm), Matt Spangher (193cm) and Ben Stratton (189cm).
Franklin, Tippett and Goodes looked particularly ominous after combining for 13 goals against the Kangaroos last week.
But, with Clarkson having weaned his players off Franklin last year, when it was clear he was heading north, the Hawks have remained the AFL's highest-scoring outfit - one that can stretch the league's tightest defence.
The only side to have topped 100 points in a match against Sydney this season, the Hawks have Jack Gunston (56 goals in 2014), Luke Breust (54), David Hale (21) and now Cyril Rioli (20) in their arsenal, along with big Roughie, who's proven too strong for Swans fullback Ted Richards in the past, kicking 4.4 last time.
"He's going to be hard to stop on Saturday," Franklin said of his old mate. "But our back six has been very good this season."
They say defences win premierships; they will need to.