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Owen Franks' injury return delayed

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All Black star's return date delayed as Crusaders prepare for Fijian clash

A return to the playing field from an ongoing shoulder injury for All Blacks and Crusaders prop Owen Franks won’t come this week.

That’s the verdict from Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson, who has ruled out the 106-test veteran from his side’s Kiwi derby clash with the Chiefs in Suva, Fiji this week.

Franks suffered a small muscle tear in his right shoulder in April and was slated to make his return to action this week, but a slow recovery process means the 31-year-old’s return date has been extended.

He joins fullback Will Jordan (foot) and hooker Codie Taylor (broken finger) as the notable injury-enforced absentees from an otherwise full-strength Crusaders squad.

After missing the 19-all draw with the Stormers in Cape Town before being rested during the 19-11 win over the Blues in Christchurch on Saturday, All Blacks skipper Kieran Read is expected to mark his return from a minor shoulder injury in the Fijian capital this weekend.

His return to the fold will enhance the Crusaders’ chance of victory against a lowly Chiefs outfit, which would secure them top-seed three weeks in advance of the Super Rugby play-offs.

However, tasked with the challenge of dealing with the excessive heat and humidity that comes with playing in the Pacific Islands, which differs vastly from the cold, damp conditions that the Crusaders are accustomed to in Christchurch at this time of the year, Robertson emphasised the importance of his side remaining focused in training this week.

“We spent a lot of time on [Friday] looking at the next couple of weeks,” Robertson told Stuff.

“Obviously, Fiji is totally different to playing here. And the last time we played there it was hot. I know Fiji is hot, but it was  . . . we trained on a Thursday morning and oh my goodness, I remember looking at Matt Todd and he was dizzy, and we were only half an hour into training.

“So we have to be smart this week, and hopefully we get the job done next week against the Chiefs, play a competitive Rebels side, and then go into a bye with a bit of momentum [before the playoffs].”

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All Black star's return date delayed as Crusaders prepare for Fijian clash