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Franks eyeballs veteran in scrum clash

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NZPA     12 Jun 2010     Getty Images

Loosehead prop Franks, after one appearance against Munster in 2008, graduates to test rugby at age 26 after a strong finish to the Rebel Sport Super 14 with the Crusaders.

He and tighthead Owen Franks will become the first brothers in 13 years since Zinzan and Robin Brooke to play an All Blacks test together as the selectors rewarded aggression and mobility ahead of incumbents Neemia Tialata and Tony Woodcock.

Melbourne-born Ben Franks promised tighthead Hayes, a 104-test veteran who debuted against Scotland 10 years ago, a torrid welcome.

"I've just played with high intensity and high workrate, just tried to get into everything. That's how I'll take it on Saturday, just stay in the gameplan and play with a high intensity and a real excitement to look for work," Franks said.

"You just naturally have a way you like to play.
Some guys are cool headed with silky skills but I quite like the contact and I'm naturally aggressive when it comes to certain things in the game. They're the things who have made me what I am as a rugby player and I won't look to change that."

Strength is another Franks trademark, which the All Blacks coaches hope will see their scrum gain the upper hand early on.

The brothers, keen gym-goers, are the strongest men in the All Blacks and have epic battles in the weights room.

The elder Franks calls it even between them: he holds the deadlift record with 260kg, while Owen set the squat record with 280kg during pre-season training.

"He's probably got me on the squats just at the moment but I kind of blow him away in the deadlifts."

The Franks living room in Christchurch will be jam-packed tomorrow night as the proud parents and other family members toast their boys.

The brothers have had until last Saturday, when coach Graham Henry named the starting 15 to the players, to get used to combining in a test.

"Mum's really excited like Mums are, and Nana, they're more the excitement factor, then you talk to Dad and he's a bit more cool and calm, just focus on the weekend, more game sort of stuff.

"They'll all be glued to the TV and hopefully I can put on a good show for them."

Ben Franks was always confident he would get back in black, despite not kicking on last year after his debut tour in 2008.

He blamed niggly injuries and said an injury-free Super 14 this year made a huge difference as he unseated Woodcock from the No 1 jersey.

He worked hard to increase his weight several kilograms to a target of 115kg and admitted his versatility - he can also play tighthead - may have worked in his favour.

"Once you've shown you can play both sides and there's an injury you're always going to be the guy who switches.

"This year I've trained really hard at both and tried to be a starter on either side. At the Crusaders nearly every game I went from one side to the other; it's tough work but if that's what I've got to do to be an All Black then I'll keep doing it."