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Auskick kids in shock and awe as Buddy pays a visit

Roger Vaughan -
NT

Retired AFL great Lance Franklin remains one of the code's biggest stars with his surprise appearance at a Darwin Auskick appearance described as "shock and awe".

After ending his career last year, the 37-year-old Hawthorn and Sydney great has kept a low profile.

He is in Darwin for the Sir Doug Nicholls Round, which starts on Thursday night when Gold Coast host Geelong at TIO Stadium.

The first the kids at Wednesday's Auskick clinic knew he would be there was when they were dwarfed by his 1.99m, 100kg-plus frame.

"(It was) a bit of shock and awe," said AFL inclusion and social policy manager Tanya Hosch.

"It just encourages them. There are role models of an Aboriginal background who've had enormous success in the game.

"It just demonstrates to them that they can be part of that conversation.

"Even if they don't make it to the highest level, the fact that someone like Buddy Franklin is taking an interest in them, it tells them they're important."

Franklin said he wants to work with Indigenous children and said being part of the clinic was "a really special day".

"You see so much talent here, it's crazy - some of the kids' marking and kicking for their age is just incredible," he said.

"To see the smiles on their faces when I rocked up was very special to me."

When he becomes eligible for induction, Franklin will be an automatic entry into the Australian Football Hall of Fame.

He played 354 games for the Hawks and Swans, kicking 1066 goals and playing in two premierships.

The freakishly skilled key forward was an eight-time All Australian - once as captain - and a four-time Coleman Medallist as the AFL's leading goalkicker.

While Franklin is one of the game's greatest players, he paid tribute to the Indigenous teammates who inspired him.

"I was fortunate enough to play with some of the greatest players who have played this game - Shaun Burgoyne, Cyril (Rioli) and then heading up to Sydney and playing with Goodesy (Adam Goodes) for his final couple of years was something I will look back on and have some fond memories.

"Also Micky O (Michael O'Loughlin) - I've been blessed to have been part of two great clubs and witnessed these great players, see what they do.

"Not just on-field, but off-field - the way they represent their people and where they come from is really important."

Roger Vaughan - AAP

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