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Return in sight for Franks

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Return in sight for injured All Blacks prop

All Blacks prop Owen Franks could return to action for the Crusaders in the Super Rugby play-offs after a long injury layoff.

The 31-year-old veteran hasn’t played since the Crusaders’ 36-14 win over the Brumbies on March 30 due to a persisting shoulder injury, and was missing from this week’s match day squad to take on the Rebels in Christchurch.

However, a quarter-final appearance in two weeks’ time isn’t out of the reckoning, according to head coach Scott Robertson.

“Not quite strong enough, that shoulder,” Robertson said.

“A couple of weeks will make a massive difference. He’s training well, he’s close, but not close enough.”

Franks may have to play club rugby next weekend in order to gain match fitness ahead of his return to Super Rugby, but Robertson was still confident that his front rower will be available for selection in a fortnight.

“We’ve got a lot of conversations with the medical group around what’s best for him next week to prepare for the first final.  We will look into it.

“But if someone can go out and play straight off the bat, it would be Owie. He’s experienced enough, professional enough to play if need be.”

The unavailability of Franks this week has been offset by the return of previously-injured All Blacks prop Tim Perry, who will start from the bench for the first time since breaking his arm against the Blues during the Crusaders’ 24-22 victory in round one.

A win for the Crusaders this week will solidify their place at the top of the standings for the remainder of the regular season, while their quarter-final opponents are yet to be determined.

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Return in sight for injured All Blacks prop