Owen Franks will have his baptism of fire when he has to anchor New Zealand’s scrum in the Tri-Nations Test against South Africa at the Absa Stadium on Saturday.
Stephen Nell reports for sport24.co.za that that the 21-year-old Franks will replace the injured Kiwi tighthead prop, Neemia Tialata, in one of only two changes that the All Blacks coach, Graham Henry, made to his team on Tuesday.
The only player who lost his place due to his performance in Saturday’ 19-28 defeat to the Boks, is scrumhalf Brendon Leonar who will be replaced by Jimmy Cowan.
Franks, who is regarded as one of the best young players in New Zealand, will have to prove himself against the Boks’ Tendai (Beast) Mtawarira.
The safer bet for the All Blacks would’ve been the more experienced John Afoa, but Henry believes Franks is up to the task.
“The bigger the challenge, the more excited he gets,” said Henry.
“It is a very good attitude. Even though it may not necessarily lead to success, it adds to it. The Boks on Saturday (in Bloemfontein) welcomed him in colourful terms onto the field. I can’t remember exactly what was said, but it was rather funny. He accepted the challenge and played well.”
“I’m sure Owen will learn a lot, because he plays against a very good prop. Owen believes in himself and the self-confidence is a very important characteristic ensuring success at this level.”
On Tuesday, the Kiwis had a long training session and Henry was pleased with his team’s positive reaction to their defeat.
“We are always under pressure. I don’t look bad for 45, don’t you think?” said the 63-year-old All Blacks coach.
“I’m very happy with the players’ attitude. We now have to improve our execution.”Tweet