DOUBLE World Cup winner Owen Franks will be watching “on telly” when his former New Zealand teammates kick off this year’s edition against hosts France on September 8.
The former All Black prop, who was in the team that won the 2011 and 2015 World Cups, has joined French champions Toulouse as a ‘World Cup joker’ for the duration of the tournament and is preparing to experience it as a spectator.
“I’ll be watching on telly I suppose,” he told AFP.
“It’s awesome being in the country at the same time. My first World Cup was at home for me in New Zealand (in 2011) and I know how special it is for a country and how the public will get behind France.
“It’s gonna be exciting to be here. Can’t wait to watch as a fan.”
France and New Zealand are among the favourites to lift the Webb Ellis Cup but, without naming names, Franks insists there are “probably four or five teams who could all win”.
The 35-year-old tighthead prop, who won 108 caps for the All Blacks, is one of nine World Cup jokers signed by Toulouse to cover for the roughly 15 players who will be absent at the tournament.
The missing players include France tighthead Dorian Aldegheri and current All Black Nepo Laulala who is set to join the champions after the World Cup.
– ‘Privileged’ –
Franks was contacted by ex-All Black teammate Jerome Kaino who is on the staff at Toulouse to see if he would be interested in filling in for the first three rounds which begin this coming weekend.
“I just feel very honoured to be here at a club such as Toulouse with such a great history of winning. It’s awesome,” says Franks who spent most of his career with Crusaders but has played Super Rugby with Hurricanes since 2021.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to be here and soak up the experience at the back end of my career and see what I can learn. To test myself in this competition is an honour.”
Franks says that no matter how many World Cup medals and international caps you have, it is always possible to learn.
“I’ve always learned by doing and watching. Players I admire, players I’ve played alongside and it’s not different for me being here regardless of my age,” he says. Scrummaging is one of those things where you’re constantly learning lessons. You try stick to your core principles but you’re always picking things up to try and improve”
Franks also spent two years in England playing for Northampton and admits that the overseas experience creates ups and downs in family life.
“My family is coming next week. I’m excited about that.
“I’ve been travelling a lot in the last few years. It’s harder on my kids and my wife… I’ll make sure when it’s all over to repay the work that my wife has put in.” – SuperSport.