Ben Franks inks deal with the Hurricanes

TOBY ROBSON
Last updated 05:00 22/09/2012
Ben Franks
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DEBUT: Ben Franks will get his first start for the Hurricanes this weekend against the Rebels.

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All Blacks prop Ben Franks is a Hurricane and a Magpie for the next three years.

The final signatures on the Crusaders and Canterbury front rower's move north were inked last night with an official announcement expected today.

Franks is known for his ability to play both sides of the scrum but will specialise as a loosehead at the Hurricanes to maximise his chances of adding to his 20 tests for the All Blacks.

Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett now has a formidable stable of props, with Franks and Reggie Goodes at loosehead and Jeffery Toomaga-Allen and Ben May at tighthead.

"Ben [Franks] is a true professional in the game. On the field, he is uncompromising and hardworking," Hammett said shortly after the move was confirmed.

"We look forward to welcoming him to the Hurricanes next season."

The 28-year-old had asked for a release from his Crusaders and Canterbury contracts in order to seek more game time elsewhere.

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 towards specialists.

The Highlanders had been keen to recruit Franks as a tighthead, but commonsense suggests he has made the right choice in heading north.

Tighthead is a congested position in New Zealand, with older brother Owen Franks, Ben Afeaki, Charlie Faumuina, Ben Tameifuna and big mover Toomaga-Allan all in the mix.

Franks' move to Hawke's Bay will surprise many. While it is debatable how much provincial rugby he will play there are sure to be windows of opportunity over the three-year period.

Hawke's Bay Rugby Union chief executive Mike Bishop said a prop of Franks' experience and ability would be welcomed with open arms. "If a guy like Ben Franks was interested in coming to Hawke's Bay then we would obviously be happy to have him."

The Magpies have been struggling this year without loosehead and team talisman Sona Taumalolo, who is now playing overseas.

Franks will potentially not have to wait long to lock horns with his younger brother Owen.

The Crusaders and Hurricanes are scheduled to meet in round four of next year's Super Rugby competition.

The draw released by Sanzar yesterday has the Hurricanes playing eight home games, including matches against South Africa's new franchise the Southern Kings, the Waratahs, Force and Stormers.

The Hurricanes have yet to confirm how many of their home matches will be played at Westpac Stadium in Wellington but they will not play the Sharks or the Melbourne Rebels unless they meet them in the playoffs.

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Meanwhile, The Dominion Post understands dumped Blues first five-eighth Gareth Anscombe may end up playing his rugby for the Chiefs next season.

Anscombe has been delisted from the Blues.

They are understood to be chasing Counties-Manukau pivot Baden Kerr.

- The Dominion Post

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