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All Blacks Franks' injury set-back

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All Blacks tighthead Franks suffers shoulder set-back, but Hansen gets double injury boost

All Blacks and Crusaders prop Owen Franks will be out of action for at least another four weeks as he recovers from a small tear in his shoulder.

The 31-year-old, however, is not expected to require surgery and should be fit for the tail end of the Super Rugby season, with the Crusaders leading the competition and strong favourites to win a third-successive title.

“The good thing is it doesn’t require surgery, so it will be a good rehab process,” Crusaders assistant coach Jason Ryan told reporters. “It’s obviously a relief for everyone.

“It was touch and go there for a bit – get him back in a month, all going well.

“He’s got a good rehab plan for the next four weeks and, all going well, that’s when he will return to play.”

Franks, a cornerstone of the All Blacks’ scrum since his 2009 debut, was injured in the Crusaders’ 36-14 victory on April 6 over the Brumbies.

The tighthead prop wrenched his shoulder and uncharacteristically pulled out of a scrum just before it engaged, saying “nup” and immediately trudged towards the sidelines.

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson had said last week that Franks needed a second scan, which caused some consternation among All Blacks fans ahead of the Rugby World Cup later this year in Japan.

Franks, with 106 caps, was a core member of the side who won the World Cup in 2011 and 2015.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has capable replacements. Nepo Laulala, with 17 caps, had cemented himself as first choice when Franks had 2017 surgery on his achilles.

Ofa Tuungafasi has also played 26 Tests, while the Highlanders’ Tyrel Lomax, having debuted in 2018 against Japan, has been the form tighthead prop this season among New Zealand’s Super Rugby teams.

Hansen has also received good news, with his first-choice blindside flanker Liam Squire, who has not played this season, and winger Waisake Naholo expected back for the Highlanders within two weeks.

AAP

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All Blacks tighthead Franks suffers shoulder set-back, but Hansen gets double injury boost