JOHANNESBURG – Tighthead prop Owen Franks, the All Blacks' latest centurion, said Saturday's Rugby Championship Test against the Springboks has raised excitement levels in the New Zealand camp even though the 2018 title has already been secured.
The traditional rivals meet at Loftus Versfeld in the final Rugby Championship fixture for 2018. Franks said on Monday that there was still plenty to play for in Pretoria even with the Rugby Championship trophy in the bag.
He said it wasn't a case of needing to think too much about the game as the excitement was already there and that was definitely the feeling from the time the team arrived in Pretoria after their flight from South America. "You can't beat a Test in Pretoria and hopefully it's a sellout. I haven't played in a sold-out stadium there since 2009 against the Bulls and it's an awesome atmosphere," he said.
Franks said having a break from playing as happened in Buenos Aires meant being able to prepare for the Springboks without the usual soreness having played the previous week. "It was important for the side to recover after the travel and letting the body recover before getting into building for the week ahead."
In Buenos Aires, he took delight in being able to sit back and watch Ofa Tuungafasi, Karl Tu'inukuafe and Angus Ta'avao perform so well against Argentina's scrum. "Angus, when he came on, really finished off the job for Ofa, and I thought Ofa was really good, really consistent, and they laid a good platform," he said.
So far as Tu'inukuafe was concerned he said his potential was obvious to everyone. "He's a destructive scrummager, a pretty easy-going guy but he flicks the switch when it comes to scrum time and on the field, he's dynamic too, especially for a big man. He's got a huge future," he said.
For a tighthead, having a loosehead like Tu'inukuafe performing so well, it provided momentum in getting the scrum going forward and the rest could follow. The difference between Argentine and South African scrums was that the Pumas tended to load up for a second shove while the Springboks had been scrumming well in this year's Championship. Franks said it had been a good contest in Wellington and that South Africa had a big pack and were hard to move - but he felt it had been an even contest.
African News Agency (ANA)