Time for Ben Franks to make a decision

TOBY ROBSON
Last updated 05:00 15/09/2012
Ben Franks
Getty Images
VERSATILE: Props like Ben Franks, who can play both sides of the scrum, will be valuable in next season's Super Rugby competition.

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Ben Franks must decide whether he is a tighthead or a loosehead prop as he tosses up contrasting offers from the Hurricanes and Highlanders.

The 28-year-old All Black is mulling over a major decision as Super Rugby's contract period comes to the crunch.

Speculation has been rife about where Franks will play next season since he was granted a release from the Crusaders.

However, The Dominion Post can reveal his decision is as much about position as place with the Hurricanes and Highlanders presenting contrasting offers.

The Hurricanes want Franks to share the loosehead duties with the up-and-coming Reggie Goodes, leaving Ben May and Jeffery Toomaga-Allen to specialise as tightheads.

The Highlanders, not surprisingly, are in the market for a tighthead after adding loosehead specialist Tony Woodcock to a squad that already contains Jamie Macintosh.

And so, Franks' decision is less about money than the best situation to push his chances of adding to his 20 tests.

International Rugby Board rules, likely to be introduced next year, will allow teams to carry an extra prop on the reserves bench meaning coaches will lean heavily toward specialists.

Franks has started just four tests since his debut against Ireland in 2010 with two on either side of the scrum.

In the Hurricanes favour could be the fact younger brother Owen is a tighthead.

Franks has some time to make his decision with Super Rugby franchises having until October 23 to provide a list of up to 28 contracted players to the New Zealand Rugby Union.

A more pressing deadline arrives on Monday, the day teams must notify the NZRU of any players they plan to delist.

Players' Association boss Rob Nichol explained the term “delisted” refers to contracted players who either want to leave a franchise, or are no longer wanted. Once a player is delisted he is free to go overseas or switch franchises.

Franchises are incentivised to help such players find a new contract because until that happens they continue to pay their NZRU retainer, which can be as high as $180,000.

Meanwhile, it is understood Blues second five-eighth Ma'a Nonu has out clauses in his contract which would allow him to make a move from Auckland.

Super Rugby squads must be finalised by October 30.

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