Joseph open to move by Franks to Highlanders

DEBUT: Ben Franks will get his first start for the Hurricanes this weekend against the Rebels.
DEBUT: Ben Franks will get his first start for the Hurricanes this weekend against the Rebels.

He has never shaken his paw and is perplexed why the Crusaders would let him go but Jamie Joseph is prepared to extend a helping hand to Ben Franks.

The Highlanders coach added more intrigue to the prospect of Franks exiting the Crusaders by stating he would be remiss to overlook the value the All Blacks prop would add to his roster for next year.

"I have never met Ben Franks, so it is pretty hard to talk about doing this and that until I shake the man's hand," Joseph said.

"At the end of the day, that was quite a surprise that Ben Franks is looking to leave the Crusaders. But I guess any player of All Black quality . . . as a coach you select the best players available, and if he is available I will look at it."

Despite being contracted to the Crusaders for next year, Franks has asked for a release because he wants to concentrate on playing tighthead.

His chances of playing there are limited by his younger brother, Owen.

Rule changes, which are expected to be finalised before next year's Super competition, will allow an extra prop to be carried on the bench; this will limit the value of players like Franks who have previously been regarded for their ability to play both sides.

All Blacks loose forward Adam Thomson has yet to advise Joseph whether he will return to the Highlanders, go offshore or possibly join the Blues.

It is certain England forward James Haskell will not return. However, Joseph has not ruled out recruiting another overseas player, despite many having already signed with the northern hemisphere clubs.

"It's not too late," he said.

"Offshore guys are always an option for us but the thing with overseas players is the issue of relationships and whether we have met them in the past."

Joseph was yesterday confirmed as the Maori All Blacks coach.

The team will play against the Leicester Tigers, a Championship Select XV and Canada in Britain in November.

Joseph will be assisted by Crusaders backs coach Daryl Gibson.