Franks suffers recurrence of back injury
April 30, 2011
Ben Franks in action for New Zealand against Ireland © Getty Images
All Blacks prop Ben Franks has suffered a recurrence of the back injury that forced him out of last year's Grand Slam tour of the UK and Ireland.
Franks joined the growing list of Graham Henry's World Cup contenders on the sidelines when he was replaced by his brother Owen during the opening quarter of the Crusaders 42-30 Super Rugby victory over the Western Force in Perth.
He will undergo further medical assessment before the squad heads to South Africa on Sunday but Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder sounded pessimistic about the front rower's prospects of making the trip when quizzed after the match.
"We're holding our breath on him but it's not looking good," Blackadder said. "He felt a bit of a popping sensation there and he's had an injury there before in his lower back."
Last November Franks had to return home before the second leg of the Grand Slam against Scotland after injuring his back during a gym session. He recovered during the off-season and has formed a strong propping unit with his sibling and loose-head Wyatt Crockett.
The trio have been rotated during the Crusaders' 10 matches so far but Crockett and Owen Franks can now expect to log plenty of game time against the Stormers in Cape Town next Sunday and Cheetahs at Bloemfontein the following weekend.
Meanwhile, in more encouraging personnel news for the Blackadder, No.8 Kieran Read's two weeks of rest and recuperation has expired so he will play the Stormers. Daniel Carter is also expected to return at first five-eighth after being unavailable with a hamstring strain.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales
The two leading contenders for the best modern open-side flanker go head to head in Paris on Saturday. John Taylor assesses the tale of the tape