Second Bledisloe Cup Test includes another 100-cap All Black

Second Bledisloe Cup test, includes another 100-cap All Black
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As teams are announced for the second Bledisloe Cup Test match this Saturday night, the list of players includes another 100-cap All Black, in Owen Franks.

A name which has been a consistent inclusion for head coach Steve Hansen, the head coach was glowing of the contribution by Owen Franks; as well as his older brother [former All Black] Ben.

“Whilst last week was a special occasion for Sammy Whitelock, this week it’s Owie’s turn to join that special club. He has started 90 of his 99 Tests to date, which is an incredible achievement for a tighthead prop, one of the most physically demanding positions on the footy field.

“His professionalism and dedication to improvement has been an inspiration to other All Blacks for quite some time now.

“We congratulate him and his family on such a wonderful achievement.”

And while the New Zealand host’s will again ‘cap’ a senior player, their opposition is too busy trying to repair and to plan for a longed for win on Eden Park. The seminal rugby fortress of All Blacks rugby, will once again see an International team aim to change the record; not a single loss since 1994.

Second Bledisloe Cup Test includes another 100-cap All Black

Primarily, rugby fans will be focused on the protagonists. New Zealand v Australia, the All Blacks hosting the Wallabies. And secondary, will be the celebration of a 100-cap All Black.

It is an continuation of The Rugby Championship 2018, one where the visitors must change the perceived result.

So many fans have, already, placed a ‘W’ next to the All Blacks names. Unjust, if you respect the game of rugby. Although, the record speaks for itself. And Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika appears to embrace that perception.

For the visitors, they have tended away from the hussle-bussle of the city center. So similar to the All Blacks in Sydney, they set themselves up north of the city – a ferry ride away, you might say. And the isolation of Waiheke Island could be a wonderful idea…..however, the focus of Australian sports media still provokes the defensive traits in Cheika and in the players.

They must redeem themselves urgently. Lose again, and the task of recovering respect for Rugby Australia, is going to be ‘that much harder’. In saying that, traveling Australian fans should have an ounce of confidence – this is sport. Anything is possible.

New Zealand team selected for Bledisloe Cup, includes two changes

If the focus on Sam Whitelock was a reinforcement of the contribution of the Crusaders captain last week, than on Saturday, it will be more of a ‘quiet nod’ to his frontrow compatriot; Owen.

Owen Franks gains his 100th Test cap Saturday. A quiet – almost solid rock – player that has enforced the rule that ‘forwards let their actions do the talking’. Franks is the epitome of a workhorse, and will smile as he puts in a 60 minute session on Saturday, to achieve another victory in his long resume of results.

In an rare opportunity in front of media this afternoon, Franks fronted the cameras and made few admissions. His role is to bear the brunt of the scrum-face. And while over his term within the winning All Blacks group, he has massively improved in key skills – as much as being the enforcer then, he is now a foundation stone for the World Champions. A constant link, in the evolution of forwards who now act as immovable rocks in the defensive line.

His was one name written down for this test, as well as several injury-enforced replacement names: Ngani Laumape and Jordie Barrett.

The two Hurricanes players are included, to compliment the existing scattering of ‘Canes men, as much as for their promise. A compliment to the strength of rugby from that franchise, as it is in the ‘formation year’ of caps for both players. Laumape holds six caps,, as young Jordie has the five. Not many – in comparison to Owen Franks, Whitelock or skipper Kieran Read – but their story has to begin somewhere.

Playing in the second match of the double-header of the Black Ferns v Wallaroos and All Blacks v Wallabies, will be another pressure situation. A test for Barrett in his comfort-position of fullback. He can then be the tall, able outside back who can interplay with Ben Smith [right wing] and Waisake Naholo.

Selection based on promise of Ngani Laumape

The choice of Laumape is one that is (to a degree) a contradiction from the All Blacks selectors. The men who came out and spoke of the poor communication from the second-five, have now thrown their support behind him. True, from June until August, there will have seen to be improvements. Ngani Laumape may have demonstrated the ‘learnings’ requested. So, is that the reason he was selected?

Likely, although it is more of the promise offered by Laumape. Names like Vince Aso, Matt Proctor and Rob Thompson, have all been spoken of; after the concussion injury to Ryan Crotty.

Is this another demonstration, which the selectors can judge upon? While that is a singular view, for any International team with such high standards [as the All Blacks or Wallabies], the requirements to be picked for the starting team needs for a highly skilled individual. So if Laumape has shown selectors like Ian Foster and assistant coach Scott McLeod, that he has all the key requirements …..then fans should have faith.

It is at Eden Park, that faith in the idea that the side is near-to unbeatable,┬áthat every supporter holds. Hard to believe if you are a realist. And Michael Hooper and his Wallabies teams are exactly that group of ‘true blue’ realists, which might be the group to alter history.

That is if they are at their very, very, very best. Anything less, and the Bledisloe Cup is locked away in the New Zealand Rugby head office for yet another year [16th consecutive].

Last Word: Owen Franks…. 100 and ‘none’

In a final word on the odd; and world record holding, trend of Owen Franks not scoring an International Test try, then the discussion maybe only relative to observers. His brother Ben has phrased it eloquently, in saying that “he won’t give a shit” about scoring his first try.

“I don’t think the All Blacks base their point-scoring tally on a tight-head prop. You know his job is to scrum and his work-rate around the field.”

Bledisloe Cup
Owen Franks and Ben Franks of the All Blacks look on during the New Zealand All Blacks IRB Rugby World Cup 2011 Captain’s Run at Eden Park on September 8, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Ben said his brother’s focus will be doing his job at set-piece. “You pick the guys like the Beauden Barrett’s to do that stuff. How many scrums has Beauden Barrett packed down?”


New Zealand v Australia – Saturday August 25. Eden Park, Auckland

“Main photo credit”
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