An emotional Richie Mo’unga has revealed how he felt after longtime friend and teammate Owen Franks missed the cut for the All Blacks’ 2019 Rugby World Cup squad.
The 31-year-old tighthead prop was one of the biggest omissions from the squad when it was named in August and was a heavy blow for Mo’unga.
Speaking to Sky Sport NZ while fighting back his emotions, the electric first five-eighth said the news was “pretty tough” to take.
“I made the Crusaders and he [Franks] was there … when I found out he wouldn’t be on the same journey as me, it was an empty feeling.
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“I thought we’d always be on this journey together and if one of us wouldn’t be there it’d be me.”
The pair had played plenty of footy together, both representing Canterbury, the Crusaders and the All Blacks.
Franks mounted 108 tests for the All Blacks before his culling, coach Steve Hansen opting for younger, more mobile props over Franks’ experience.
However, the veteran had no bitterness towards the All Blacks following his surprise omission.
“I’m disappointed,” Franks told MediaWorks earlier. “But I’m well aware as a professional athlete, and especially an All Black, that your time in the jersey isn’t owed.
“I really can’t sit here and complain. I’ve been to two World Cups and been lucky enough to win two medals.”
Mo’unga is playing at his first World Cup and was named at first five-eighth for the semifinal against England tomorrow night.
The omission of his friend taught him a number of lessons, including to never get comfortable with his place in the team.
The amount of effort Franks put into himself was also inspiring to Mo’unga, he said, calling the tighthead the “most professional athlete I know”.
Meanwhile, it was always Mo’unga’s dream to represent his country, province and local Super Rugby team growing up, he said.
“When the opportunity came to go to rugby league, those were the things that I based my decision around.
“What I really wanted to do and what was my long term dream. If I went to league, that dream would be over.”
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