Owen Franks seeking first Super Rugby title
It isn't just Jacques Potgieter that reminded Owen Franks of South Africa whenever he watched the Waratahs.
Springbok lock Potgieter has been one of Michael Cheika's best forwards as the Waratahs, who have been unbeaten in Sydney this season, have roared into the Super Rugby grand final on the back of an eight-match winning streak.
The vagaries of the Super Rugby draw meant the Crusaders never played the Waratahs this season but Franks respects the way coach Cheika has moulded their pack into such a physical unit.
Not meeting the New South Welshmen during the regular season won't be a disadvantage.
"I don't think so," Crusaders tighthead prop Franks says. "I guess they are quite similar to the African teams. They have got a big forward pack, a good scrum and real explosive backs. They deserved to finish first (after the round robin)."
Cheika is expected to stick with Potgieter and Kane Douglas as his second rowers, keeping Auckland-born lock Will Skelton, who is listed at 135kg, on the bench for Saturday night's showdown at Sydney's ANZ Stadium.
Having shaded the Sharks scrum during last Saturday night's 38-6 win in Christchurch, Franks should be quietly confident about the Crusaders' front row's chances of holding their own against the Waratahs front row of Benn Robinson, Tatafu Polota-Nau and Sekope Kepu.
Being given the task of containing the Sharks pack was something Franks and his fellow tight forwards relished; in addition to nullifying their scrum they disrupted their short lineouts with Sam Whitelock plundering several of Bismarck du Plessis' throws.
"As a tight-five, yeah, we enjoyed it," Franks reflected. "They have one of the best scrums and lineouts in the competition and that's really our area - to get the job done and make the other guys' jobs easier."
All Black Franks, 26, has won a World Cup medal but a Super Rugby title has eluded him since joining the Crusaders in 2009. Like a number of his team-mates who also played in the 2011 grand final loss to the Reds in Brisbane.
- The Press