Star Swans recruit Lance Franklin has opened up about his new life in Sydney, admitting the intense media scrutiny has made the transition more difficult than he had anticipated.
Franklin has come in for heavy criticism since his move from Melbourne, generating negative headlines in both the sport and social pages.
Rumours of a dust-up with new teammate Ryan O’Keefe and claims that he would destroy the club's famous culture have been mixed with multiple intrusions into his personal life.
The situation seemingly came to a head this week when Franklin was snapped at Bondi Beach with two mystery women under the headline 'Where's Jesinta?'
Jesinta, of course, refers to Franklin's model girlfriend Jesinta Campbell, who was working in the Blue Mountains when the photos were taken.
Franklin says he's amazed how a day at the beach with friends – including teammates Dan Hannebery and Tom Derickx – would end up in the papers.
"I just feel sorry for my partner at times," Franklin says.
"Obviously, having a girlfriend and then stuff getting written in the paper about your private life is hard. I just feel sorry for my partner and (her) family and my family too, getting phone calls about issues that aren't even happening.
"You're just down there having a swim with your mates ... you can't do anything. It comes as a surprise to me and comes as a surprise to everyone else. You try and live your life but obviously the Sydney media like doing pictures of me.
"It can be tough at times – and I'm not being a sook – it is what it is and there's nothing I can do about. But I think the papers need to get over it."
Franklin's relationship with Hannebery has also been questioned, with critics claiming the notorious party boy will have a bad influence on the star 23-year-old.
Those claims weren't helped when it emerged last week that Hannebery had crashed Franklin's expensive sports car.
"He’s leading me astray, isn’t he!," Franklin jokes.
"As I said, there's nothing I can really do about it. It's unfortunate for the football club. But it's out of my control. 'Hanners' just needs to learn to drive a little bit more. And, 'Pebbs' (O'Keefe), I think if I had a fight with him he wouldn't be playing the next week, that's for sure.
"I'm not too sure where people get these things from. Everyone's got relationships within a footy club.
"That's what I'm surprised with. What? They don't expect Hanners to hang around with another bloke at the footy club? Or me to hang out with another guy? It's a bit disappointing.
"But as long as there is the support of the footy club I've got no issue with it and neither has the footy club. It’s just what was reported."
Franklin admits that he has to have a "thick skin in this business", especially when he carries a $10 million price tag after Sydney's incredible trade coup that lured the dual premiership player away from Hawthorn.
But the 27-year-old has conceded the move has been harder than he expected.
"I'm not going to lie, it's been a difficult transition coming across from the Hawks," he says.
"I probably didn't think it was going to be this hard, but it has been difficult at times. I'm not going to shy away from that. It's difficult, especially when things get reported that aren't true, or you're just trying to keep private.
"I haven't really seen too much of Sydney.
"I look forward to seeing a little bit more of it.
"I actually haven't really left my house. And, when I do, it's bloody tough. It is what it is."
Critics of Franklin were given more ammunition when he picked up just seven disposals in Sydney's shock loss to Greater Western Sydney in Round 1.
The loss was followed by articles in the Melbourne and Sydney press that claimed Franklin was already undermining Sydney's legendary 'Bloods' culture.
Franklin accepts that his high profile will keep him in the media for the rest of his career.
But he says the expectations of the club and his teammates are the only things that matter.
"As long as I'm doing the right thing, I'm happy with that and so is the football club. There's not much else I can really do. It's out of my hands, what's written in the paper.
"I know I'm not going to come out and kick 10 goals every game or get 20-plus touches every game.
"People have already written me off. But so be it. As long as I'm playing the right type of footy for the club, I'm happy with that."
Franklin will attempt to get his first win with his new club when the Swans face Collingwood at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.