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Big Ben versus little brother Owen.
It's a matchmaker's dream, but Hurricanes loosehead prop Ben Franks can't understand what all the fuss is about ahead of his first Super Rugby showdown with his Crusaders sibling on Friday night.
"We've scrummed against each other loads. We've been each other's training partners for a long time so it's not a big deal for us to come up against each other," the 29-year-old said today.
"Me and Owen we've always done stuff together, so it feels natural. I haven't worried about going up against Owen in the brother sense.
"I do my homework, obviously, as I do every week on my opponent and Owen's obviously world-class."
The two brothers have played in the All Blacks together since Ben made his debut in 2010 and in various Crusaders and Canterbury sides since Owen, four years Ben's junior, began in 2007.
Going head to head has been a rare thing outside the training paddock, but with Ben's move to the Hurricanes and his renewed focus on playing loosehead prop (Owen is a tighthead) the clash was inevitable.
"I can understand how it is for people at home when you think about it, but from when you start playing rugby at an early age you are either playing with mates or coming up against mates," Ben said.
"When you've played since early childhood right through then competition is part of everyday life.
"I've been up against mates at training every day this week. It's part and parcel of being a professional rugby player."
The brothers have clashed at representative level once before, when Canterbury played Tasman in 2007.
"I can't remember what year, but when I was playing for Tasman and Owen was in his first year for Canterbury we came up against each other, but it was just for 10 or 15 minutes," Ben said.
He was unsure who was stronger right now as he hadn't talked to Owen about his weights programme for a while.
The pair are remarkably similar physically, though Owen is a centimetre taller at 1.85m.
Ben said their respective weights fluctuated, but were rarely more than two or three kilograms apart. Both are listed this year as 118kg.
And whoever gets the better of things this weekend, Ben, who famously saved his little brother from a house fire when they were children, said it wouldn't cause any arguments over the next family dinner.
"I suppose from what I hear we get on a lot better than most. It's pretty weird, but it doesn't seem like New Zealand has a lot of brotherly love out there," he laughed.
"No, it'll be enjoyable. I've always heard stuff about what it's like to play against the Crusaders. At the end of the day it's still rugby and my goals this year, as much as I loved being a Crusader, are trying to achieve some stuff with the Hurricanes. We're trying to get our first win, so I'd love to do that this weekend."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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