Franks brothers to go head to head
March 6, 2013
Owen and Ben Franks are all too familar with going head to head over the years. © Getty Images
For Ben Franks packing down against his brother Owen is one of the most natural things in the world - and that won't change on Friday night when the Hurricanes take on the Crusaders.
While the media and public are intrigued by the brotherly rivalry between to the two All Black props ahead of the round four Super Rugby match in Wellington, for Ben, the elder of the two siblings, it is simply business as usual.
"We've scrummed against each other loads. We've been each other's training partners for a long time so it's not a real big thing for us to come up against each other physically," Franks said. "We've always done stuff together so it feels natural. I haven't worried about going up against Owen in a brother sense."
"Obviously I've done my homework like I do every week on a prop because Owen is obviously world class," Franks added.
The last time Ben Franks can remember playing a competitive match against his brother was in a provincial game between Tasman and Canterbury in 2007.
"I can understand how it is for people at home to think about it," said the loosehead prop. "But from when you start playing rugby at an early age you're either playing with mates or coming up against mates ... it's every day life and I'm competing against mates at training all this week. It's just part and parcel of being a professional rugby player."
After playing 83 games for the Crusaders in a pack stacked with All Blacks Franks has had to make some adjustments and work on new combinations since joining the Hurricanes, who have a much more inexperienced front-row group. He and hooker Dane Coles are the only All Blacks, although Ben May has more than 50 Super Rugby caps and toured with the Maori All Blacks at the end of last year.
But Jeff Toomaga-Allen and Reg Goodes are only in their second year of Super Rugby and are still developing, albeit well enough to keep May out of the 22 to play the Reds last week and on the bench for Friday's game.
"It's definitely a bit different from the scrum I've come from," Franks said. "I'm happy with it. Everyone is working really well. As long as we keep improving each week I'll be happy."
"It will be a good one this week to test where we are at. The Crusaders have always been one of the better scrums in the whole comp," Franks added. "I'm sure we'll find out come Friday whereabouts we sit and how much more work we've got to do."
Both teams have yet to record a win this season, with the Hurricanes 0 from 2 after losses to the Blues and Reds, and the Crusaders suffering a first-up defeat to the Blues last week.
Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett has made just one change to the starting XV from last week's loss, switching Victor Vito to No.8 and Brad Shields to blindside flanker.
"It's just a wee bit more experience in at No.8 just around decision-making at crucial part of the game," Hammett said of his decision. "It's not that Brad isn't going well. It's just sometimes you need someone to put their hand up and take over."
"Victor is a test All Black, has been around a long time, and is playing his 50th game this weekend. So we just think it will assist in that position around that decision-making of eight, nine and ten," Hammett added.
Vito and Coles will both play their 50th games for the franchise on Friday.