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Crusaders crisis deepens as former All Black prop hit with ban

By Ben Smith
Owen Franks of the Crusaders runs out after the break during the round four Super Rugby Pacific match between the Crusaders and Hurricanes at Apollo Projects Stadium, on March 15, 2024, in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

The Crusaders will be without former All Black prop Owen Franks after his illegal cleanout in the dying stages of the loss to Hurricanes has been sanctioned.

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The 36-year-old received a yellow card on the field for a dangerous cleanout on lock Justin Sangster as the Hurricane was retreating from the ruck.

Franks became engulfed in a scuffle with openside Du’Plessis Kirifi who took exception to Franks’ high shot which stopped play.

The on-field yellow card was later upgraded to red which meant Franks had to face a judiciary hearing for foul play.

SANZAAR’s foul play review committee charged Franks with dangerous play at a ruck and maul and handed him a two-game suspension, ruling him out of crunch derbies with the Blues and the Chiefs.

Should he complete a head contact course, Franks could recieve a one-week reduction and by eligible for the Chiefs rematch.

Rob Penney has a new headache to deal with this week as Franks joins captain Scott Barrett sidelined with a finger injury, Tamaiti Williams, loose forward Ethan Blackadde and hooker Codie Taylor as All Blacks out of action.

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Joe Moody might be available after suffering from Covid last week.

The Blues host the Crusaders on Saturday night at Eden Park with Rob Penney’s side looking to avoid five losses in a row to start the season.

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J
Jon 52 minutes ago
British & Irish Lions free agent open to Super Rugby switch

There are a couple of teams who could use a stop gap experienced head. Blues - I’m not sure the Blues have signed a replacement for Caleb Tangitau (if he hasn’t been let go to make room for Barrett) yet, or whether Reiko is going on sabbatical and/or will remain in the squad. With exciting young French player Xavi Taele looking destined for higher honors in black, talented breakthrough rookie Cory Evan’s, and a couple of utilities, in AJ Lam and Bryce Heem(even Clarke?), all trying to learn the midfield trade, Williams could be a great aid. The Blues signed key English center Joe Marchant before he was raised to that level, and were possibly in the hunt to bring back the dependable Tele’a from the Highlanders. Possible the main squeeze which would put to bed any signing here would be the battle at 10 with Beauden’s return, and the forcing of Plummer back into the midfield. Hurricanes - Jordie Barrett is off to Leinster for a sabbatical next year but the more likely signing would be Billy’s brother back in the team. The Hurricanes are light on the outside with the loss of Salesi Rayasi to the Top 14 and if no quality is found to back up Kini Naholo, the midfield of Sullivan or Proctors could find themselves on the wing and space for a leader to show the Hurricanes three All Black midfield hopefuls (Higgins, Proctor, Umaga-Jensen) how its done. Highlanders - Rotation is high as usual at the Highlanders and versatility remains a strength with a lot of the squad. With compatriot Rhys Patchell signing a move to the JRLO, the passing of outside back Connor Garden-Bachop, and confirmed departure of Argentine wing Martin Bogado, the versatility of many of the young backups in the squad could see a veteran 12 like Williams being a strong partner for the robust Tele’a. With hope that the other Umaga-Jensen brother can force him out of the starting lineup, and shifting the sides general Sam Gilbert back into 10, the off-contract midfielder might seen as the perfect option for a squad still looking to fill one back spot.

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