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Franks tighthead of All Blacks backs shoulder but Hansen gets two goals



All Blacks and Crusaders maintain that Owen Franks will be out of action for at least another four weeks while recovering from a small tear on his shoulder.

The 31-year-old, however, should not need surgery and should be fit for the end of the Super Rugby season, with the Crusaders leading the competition and strong favorites to clinch a third consecutive title.

"The good thing is that it does not require surgery, so it will be a good rehabilitation process," Crusaders assistant coach Jason Ryan told reporters. "It's obviously a relief to everyone.

"It was touching and going there for a bit – take it back in a month, everything going well.

"He has a good rehabilitation plan for the next four weeks and, all going well, that's when he will return to play."

Franks, the cornerstone of the All Blacks scrum since its debut in 2009, was injured in the Crusaders' win by 36 to 14 on April 6 over the Brumbies.

The tight pillar ripped off his shoulder and unusually pulled out of a scrum just before hitching, saying "nup" and immediately crawled to the side.

Scott Robertson, a Crusaders coach, said last week that Franks needed a second test, which caused some consternation among All Blacks supporters before the Rugby World Cup later this year in Japan.

Franks, with 106 caps, was one of the top members of the team that won the World Cup in 2011 and 2015.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has capable substitutes. Nepo Laulala, with 17 caps, established himself as the first choice when Franks underwent surgery in 2017 on his Achilles.

Ofa Tuungafasi also played 26 tests, while the Highlander Tyrel Lomax, who debuted in 2018 against Japan, has been the strongest form this season among New Zealand's Super Rugby teams.

Hansen also got some good news with his first choice flank Liam Squire, who did not play this season, and midfielder Waisake Naholo waited for the Highlanders back in two weeks.

AAP

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