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Injured ex-All Blacks prop Owen Franks sets date for Hurricanes debut

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Dianne Manson/Getty Images)

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Former All Blacks star Owen Franks has set a date for his Hurricanes debut, despite having been ruled out for this season with a serious injury.

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The Hurricanes announced last May that Franks had signed a two-year deal with the Wellington side, but the 108-test veteran’s hopes of playing for his new team this year were seemingly dashed when it was confirmed in November that he had ruptured his Achilles tendon.

That injury was set to rule him out for the entirety of the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific campaign, but Franks is now reportedly eyeing up a Hurricanes debut as early as April.

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Speaking to Stuff, the 34-year-old – who made more than 150 appearances and won three Super Rugby titles with the Crusaders between 2009 and 2019 – remains optimistic about his chances to taking to the field for the Hurricanes midway through the season.

“I’m trying to stay grounded and not get too ahead of myself, but I intend to be playing Super Rugby this year for sure,” Franks said.

“I don’t think I’ve been this pumped about potentially playing again in a long time. Especially with what I’ve been through with injuries the last year-and-a-half.

“If I can get back on the field and play to my potential, it will probably be the biggest achievement of my career. I fricking can’t wait.”

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The two-time World Cup winner joins the Hurricanes from the Northampton Saints, the English club he joined following his shock exclusion from the All Blacks squad for the 2019 World Cup.

During his time in the Premiership, Franks played just 22 games for the Saints, the last of which came last February, as injuries plagued him throughout his time in the United Kingdom.

Even before he left for Northampton, Franks had battled with persistent niggles, and that injury curse has evidently followed him back to New Zealand.

However, after initially looking to link back up with the Crusaders after cutting his Northampton deal short by a year before signing with the Hurricanes, Franks told Stuff that he feels in fine form as he continues his rapid progression through rehab.

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“To be honest, since it’s been ruptured, it’s the least amount of pain I’ve had in there,” Franks said. “I think in the past it would have been in a cast for six weeks…things have progressed real quickly.”

Should all go to plan, there is a chance Franks could square off against his former team at Sky Stadium in Wellington on April 8.

Until then, though, the Hurricanes will continue to prepare for their season-opening clash against the Crusaders at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch on February 19.

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