Franks gets in­tel from English-based brother

Weekend Herald - - Rugby - Liam Napier

The Franks broth­ers and the in­side job. Sounds like a movie script.

Rather, this is the story of one brother help­ing an­other; one of many Euro­pean-based All Blacks help­ing his for­mer team by pro­vid­ing valu­able lo­cal in­tel­li­gence.

Ben Franks played 47 tests for the All Blacks, with the last the 2015 World Cup fi­nal. Based in Eng­land for the past three years, mov­ing from Lon­don Ir­ish to Northamp­ton this sea­son, it is clear where Franks’ loy­al­ties lie.

The 34-year-old for­mer Cru­sader was spot­ted at All Blacks train­ing in Lon­don on Tues­day, and younger brother Owen has clearly made the most of the chance to tap into his knowl­edge of Eng­land loose­heads Ben Moon and Alec Hep­burn.

“I’m lucky to have my brother over here play­ing in the Pre­mier­ship, so he’s had a bit of ex­pe­ri­ence with both guys, so I had a chat to him,” Owen Franks said. “I’ve done my due dal­liance for sure.”

Asked by a lo­cal scribe if Ben was a ‘spy in the camp’, Franks chuck­led: “No, he’s not in the Eng­land camp. He just plays against them.”

So what did Franks glean? “Moon is re­ally ex­pe­ri­enced. He’s played for Ex­eter for a long time, so he’s a pretty de­struc­tive scrum­mager. Play­ing 10-odd years in the Pre­mier­ship is not easy.

“Hep­burn has a sound tech­nique and looks like he loves to have a crack so they’re both re­ally tidy props.”

The All Blacks front-row club lost a mem­ber this week with Joe Moody’s lac­er­ated eye­lid, the re­sult of a freak train­ing ac­ci­dent dur­ing a li­ne­out lift, con­fin­ing him to an eye patch and out of ac­tion for six weeks. Franks hasn’t held back on Moody’s new look.

“We keep it pretty light hearted with Joe. If it was the other way around, he would be straight into you. Noth­ing is off lim­its with him.”

The lead­ing fig­ure of the front-row club, hav­ing now played 104 tests, Franks be­lieves he is in the best shape for a north­ern tour af­ter a late start to this sea­son fol­low­ing Achilles surgery.

“I do feel re­ally good, def­i­nitely dif­fer­ent to pre­vi­ous end-of-year tours where you’re just scrap­ing by.

“In a typ­i­cal sea­son, with the amount of games I’d nor­mally play, I’d only be halfway through. It’s steadily im­prov­ing the longer it gets from surgery, so I’ve been re­ally happy.”

Franks also has no doubts new side­kick Karl Tu’inukuafe will han­dle the most chal­leng­ing test of his ca­reer.

“He’s pretty non­cha­lant about the whole thing, takes it all in his stride. That’s the thing that prob­a­bly im­presses me the most. He’s re­laxed but he can turn it on when he needs to. He’s a re­ally good guy, too.

“It’s a big chal­lenge. I don’t think I need to say any­thing to Karl. He’s played a lot of rugby in the French sec­ond di­vi­sion, which is renowned for scrum­mag­ing.”

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