New Zealand v Australia, Auckland, August 6
Franks out to silences Wallabies
August 1, 2011
All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith is wary of an improved Wallabies pack © Getty Images
All Blacks prop Ben Franks is sick of the sight of Australian players celebrating and using that as his motivation ahead of this weekend's clash in Auckland.
Franks, who made his ninth Test appearance in New Zealand's crushing 40-7 win over a depleted Springboks side in Wellington on Saturday night, was a spectator when the All Blacks were beaten by their Trans-Tasman rivals in Hong Kong last year and was on the field when the Crusaders lost the Super Rugby finale to the Reds in Brisbane last month.
The Melbourne-born 27-year-old did not enjoy the exuberant celebrations he witnessed from the victorious Australians on each occasion and is anxious to prevent that happening again. "You don't want to lose to Australia because they certainly let you know about it," he said. "It [the loss in Hong Kong] didn't leave a great taste in the mouth."
And the loss at Suncorp Stadium after an emotionally draining, nomadic Super Rugby campaign wasn't much fun either. "It wasn't the way we [the Crusaders] wanted to finish our season and a lot of those guys are going to be in that team so it would be nice to be able to get a good win against them," he said.
Franks was replaced at tight-head three minutes into the second half against the Springboks but was back on the field not long after when his replacement John Afoa collected a knee to his cheek, fracturing the bone. The Blues prop is in doubt to face the Australians and with first-choice loose-head Tony Woodcock playing provincial rugby on Tuesday as part of his comeback from a long-term foot injury, Franks, who was part of a scrum that dominated the Springboks, is in line for some game time despite the return of his younger brother Owen.
Owen Franks and fellow Crusaders Brad Thorn and Kieran Read along with Blues hooker Keven Mealamu are all likely to start against the Wallabies after missing the Tests in Dunedin and Wellington.
The battle for places in the front row for the World Cup is intense but Ben Franks, who has had to compete against the likes of Greg Somerville, Campbell Johnstone, Wyatt Crockett and more recently his brother at the Crusaders, is used to scrapping for a spot in a side.
"It is such a challenge to be able to get that jersey each week so when you get the opportunity to play it doesn't matter who the opposition is, who they've put out there, you really want to take it so whoever gets to go out there this coming weekend will be pretty pumped because there a lot of stuff on the line."
Coach Graham Henry, who rated the All Blacks' win over South Africa a seven out of 10, said Australia would bring a lot more to the table that the inexperienced South Africans, who left 21 players at home to recover from injuries ahead of the World Cup.
"They've got some very clever players, particularly in the backs. It is going to be a real test of our mentality, our ability to handle things that are quite different from what the South Africans do because of the quality of the back play of the Australians. We're ready for that, we're looking forward to that, and it is going to be a huge challenge," he said.
Henry was happy with the progress the side had made from the 60-14 win over Fiji, especially with the lineout and the scrum as well as the work at the breakdown but felt that despite the hype building about the Tri-Nations and Bledisloe Cup encounter it did not take on huge significance.
"I don't think it has any greater magnitude than many of the Test matches we have played before. We've got to be on our game. We've got to be bright in what we do and so it'll be a big week to get the right game plan together," he said.
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