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'Icon of Crusaders rugby' Owen Franks returns to the red and black

By Ned Lester
Owen Franks (Photo by Dianne Manson/Getty Images)

The team with the most All Blacks-heavy prop stocks in Super Rugby Pacific just got even deeper, as the Crusaders announced the signing of Owen Franks on Wednesday.

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Franks, now 35 years of age, spent the 2022 and ’23 seasons with the Hurricanes as he returned to Super Rugby after time abroad playing for Toulouse in France’s Top 14 and the Northhampton Saints.

The veteran has over 150 caps in the red and black jersey to his name, last donning the colours in 2019, having won a three-peat with the team.

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With four All Black props already in the squad, the Crusaders pose an immense challenge at scrum time and even without Franks on the field, the scrum guru’s presence in the gym and around the team will be influential, especially for youngsters Fletcher Newell and Tamaiti Williams – the former of whom has credited Franks’ mentorship in the past.

Finlay Brewis is the only prop in the Crusaders’ ranks without an All Blacks appearance to his name, with Joe Moody and George Bower returning from injury to contest the team’s young stars’ starting roles.

“I’m really looking forward to rubbing shoulders with the other front rowers and competing with them,” Franks said. “They’re all world-class in my opinion, so it’ll be great to be a part of that unit.”

For the test centurion, 2024 was always going to be spent back home in Canterbury, and landing a deal with the Crusaders has offered a chance to do what he loves while being back with family.

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“I’m hugely grateful for the opportunity to play for the Crusaders and represent my people and my home,” Franks continued. 

“Coming back makes me realise what a privilege it is to play for this club.

“I’m playing rugby at this stage of my career because I enjoy it and still have plenty to give.”

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Incoming Crusaders coach Rob Perrin is inheriting quite the squad from his predecessor Scott Robertson and is expecting his most recent signing to bring some big contributions, on and off the field.

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“He’s the ultimate professional and at 35 years of age is in his prime for a front rower,” Perrin said.

“From what I’ve seen of his games for Toulouse, he’s in some of the best form of his career.”

Penney continued, saying the club was “pleased and excited to welcome back an icon of Crusaders rugby”.

“Owen has already made a significant contribution to this team, and we can’t wait for him to continue to do this throughout our 2024 campaign.”

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