Ben Franks fires up at Hurricanes teammates
Ben Franks has fired a salvo at his teammates as they start a season defining two-match tour of South Africa.
The Hurricanes suddenly have issues, ninth on the Super Rugby ladder and still searching for a back up hooker yesterday as they over-nighted in Sydney on the way to Pretoria.
And so it was a grumpy Franks who swum against the tide in the wake of Friday's 18-16 loss to the Stormers.
Far from satisfied by a pleasing step up in intensity, the loose head prop was down right peeved after another close match slipped away due to basic errors.
"It's the same things that haven't been going well like getting out of our own half, silly mistake at crucial times when we're trying to build pressure came through again," he said.
"It's not a team thing, it's individual. Guys have to be accountable for their own areas. When it's happening week to week it's something you have to look at."
A classic example was when the Hurricanes went up 16-13 against the Stormers, but turned over possession on their own 22m from the kick off then conceded a soft try to win Gio Aplon.
"It's not all doom and gloom, but if you want to win this competition you need to nail it. Otherwise it's just going to be a big shit-fight over the last few weeks of the round robin," Franks said.
"If you are trying to be a great team, trying to be a championship team those are the things that championship teams do. When the Crusaders were winning theirs they always found a way to get these wins, when the Chiefs won last year found a way. If we want to go to that next level we need to find a way."
Franks was brought north from the Crusaders to demand high standards and clearly doesn't plan to ease off half way through possibly the tightest play-off race Super Rugby has seen.
He knows at least one win from their South African sortie against the Bulls and Cheetahs will be crucial, especially with the Chiefs lying in wait on their arrival back in Wellington.
"We're a good enough team to beat anyone, but we're not a good enough team to have lapses. We have to put 80 minutes together," Franks said.
"This far into the competition it's just so much mental preparation. You can only train so much catch, pass, tackle.
"We've been doing this since we were six so we know how to do it. It's getting your week right and switching on."
The Hurricanes task won't be helped by the fact they left Wellington with only one specialist hooker in Ash Dixon.
Motu Matu'u has stayed home after breaking his right forearm against the Stormers, while Dane Coles is a month away after fracturing his cheekbone in training.
Prop Reggie Goodes is Dixon's back up for now with Manawatu's Rob Foreman and Taranaki's Timo Tuatavaha among the options to join the squad.
The return of wing Julian Savea will be a boost after he missed the last match due to the drama that surrounded his recent assault charge.
He dodged media by arriving several an hour early at Wellington airport, but is expected to play against the Bulls.
Savea is part of a 25-man travelling squad with brother Ardie, Samisoni Fisilau, James Marshall and Blade Thomson missing the cut.
Loose forward Brad Shields said the squad wouldn't shy away from the challenge in South Africa.
"We played that physical game we've been searching for, but we were just that 10 per cent off with drop balls and little errors," he said. "We can't wait. We're a team that's young and enthusiastic. If we can make sure we're mentally ready we should be right."
The Dominion Post