Owen Franks to turn out for Canterbury after All Blacks snub

Owen Franks will go back to where it all began when he starts at tighthead prop for Canterbury in tomorrow's Mitre 10 Cup match against Auckland. Photo: Getty
Owen Franks will go back to where it all began when he starts at tighthead prop for Canterbury in tomorrow's Mitre 10 Cup match against Auckland. Photo: Getty
All Blacks reject Owen Franks will play his first game for Canterbury in nine years as he looks to stay sharp and remain an injury replacement option for the World Cup.

Franks will start at tighthead prop for Canterbury in their round six Mitre 10 Cup match against Northland in Whangarei on Friday night. The last time the 108-test All Black pulled on the red at black at provincial level was on October 16, 2010,

during a 39-21 Ranfurly Shield defence against Counties Manukau at Lancaster Park.

"I talked to him earlier in the week and said let's get you on the field, it's important you play rugby because you never know what's going to happen. I'm sure he's aware of it," said Canterbury coach Joe Maddock.

"He wants to play and that's a testament to him as a bloke, he just wants to play some good rugby."

Franks will also bring an extra level of experience and class to a Canterbury side who, after back-to-back wins, are starting to look like a playoff team in the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership.

Owen Franks cut a different looking figure the last time he turned out for Canterbury nearly a...
Owen Franks cut a different looking figure the last time he turned out for Canterbury nearly a decade ago.
"If you bring in an All Black with 100 plus caps the standards go up. Our young props in the group are certainly learning what it means to be one of the best in the world," said Maddock.

Canterbury began their campaign with frustrating losses on the road to Waikato and Wellington and were outclassed by Tasman who have taken the mantle of title favourites. However, an 80-0 drubbing of Southland and an impressive 32-22 win over

Auckland in Eden Park at the weekend now has Canterbury in the playoff hunt.

Maddock says the improved performances from his Canterbury side have come as a result of the younger members of the squad gelling.

"As a management and coaching group we probably underestimated how different a team this was to last year. We thought with the experience that we had the young guys would come in and just pick it up, but I think as a new group it’s taken a little bit to gel.

"I feel like we're there now. I think the players feel like they're there and know how they want to play rugby and are confident to go out and execute. We saw that in Auckland," said Maddock.

Dallas McLeod has scored two tries in as many games for Canterbury and has made an impression on coach Joe Maddock. Photo: Getty
Dallas McLeod has scored two tries in as many games for Canterbury and has made an impression on coach Joe Maddock. Photo: Getty
Loose forward Reed Prinsep, now one of the senior members of the Canterbury squad, backed up Maddock's comments.

"I think a lot of it is to do with combinations. Obviously there's a lot of new faces in the team this year. It's getting an understanding of how they play and for them how I play. It's having that understanding and building that at training," said Prinsep.

"My first impression of the young guys is that it's a great group of guys. It seems to be the case with Canterbury teams, you bring young guys in and they're just good buggers and work hard for each other.

"Guys like Cullen [Grace], he came and had a massive preseason, performed well against Waikato before a wee injury, but he's back now and has been going awesome," he said.

Another first year player making an impression in red and black is Christ's College product Dallas McLeod. Coming off the back of a strong club season with Christchurch and a junior world championship campaign with the under-20 New Zealand side,

McLeod has now scored two tries in as many games for Canterbury on the wing.

"He's a midfielder and I've put him on the wing, and he's done a pretty good job there. He's a good young kid and has a big future and won't be on the wing long term, but for now it's a place he can fill," said Maddock.

* Kick-off: 7.35pm.

Canterbury side to play Northland: Daniel Lienert-Brown 1, Brodie McAlister 2, Owen Franks 3, Cullen Grace 4, Mitchell Dunshea 5, Reed Prinsep 6, Tom Christie 7, Luke Whitelock 8, Ereatara Enari 9, Brett Cameron 10, Ngane Punivai 11, Inga Finau 12, Braydon Ennor 13, Sam Gilbert 14, Josh McKay 15. Reserves: Seb Siataga 16, Harry Allen 17, Siate Tokolahi 18, Will Tucker 19, Whetu Douglas 20, Mitchell Drummond 21, Fergus Burke 22, Dallas McLeod 23.

 

 

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