All Blacks prop Franks to join Northampton from Crusaders

All Blacks prop Franks to join Northampton from Crusaders
By Reuters

14/02/2019 at 18:00Updated 14/02/2019 at 18:03

Feb 15 (Reuters) - All Blacks prop Owen Franks will join English Premiership club Northampton Saints from New Zealand Super Rugby's Canterbury Crusaders at the end of the year, his nation's rugby union said on Friday.

The two-time World Cup winner played in all seven All Blacks games at the 2011 Rugby World Cup and six at the 2015 tournament. The 31-year-old has 106 caps and teams up with elder brother Ben, who joined Saints from London Irish last year.

"New Zealand will always be home, but Northampton presents a great opportunity for me to test myself in a new rugby environment, and reconnect with family there," Franks said in a statement.

Having never before plied his trade outside of New Zealand, Franks is relishing the prospect of northern hemisphere rugby.

"While I know I'll look back at the end of my time in New Zealand with an immense amount of pride, I still have a lot I want to achieve this year and some big goals to tick off before I leave," he added.

Franks made his Crusaders debut in 2009 and in June that year made his All Blacks debut against Italy aged 21 years and 186 days, the third youngest prop to play for the country.

He made his 100th Super Rugby appearance in the Crusaders match against the Otago Highlanders in 2015 and an All Blacks test centurion against Australia in Auckland last year.

"Owie is one of the most professional players I've had the privilege of coaching," All Blacks coach Steve Hanson said.

"His unbelievable commitment to his preparation, on-field and gym training, diet and his game is there for all to see, and inspires others.

"He has done this from the first time he made the All Blacks in 2009, has continued that throughout his whole career, and his achievement in reaching 106 Tests to date reflects that." (Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)