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A recent drop in form has seen Northampton Saints prop Owen Franks miss out on selection as New Zealand named the squad tasked to win an unprecedented third straight Rugby World Cup.
Franks, 31, will not contest his third tournament in Japan this year after a poor showing in his final season for the Canterbury Crusaders before signing with the Premiership Rugby side.
The tighthead, who has played 108 Tests for his country, was replaced in the front row by 24-year-old Atu Moli of the Waikato Chiefs.
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“He certainly has shown true character,” Hansen said. “Unfortunately … we believe the game requires us to have big, mobile No 1s and No 3s and in this case we feel the guys we’ve named are more-so than he. Therefore, we had to make a tough decision.
“I’m very respectful of how he coped with it — it’s a mark of the man.”
Hansen also described Franks as “one of the great All Blacks.”
Powerful centre Ngani Laumape, 26, and experienced back-rower Liam Squire, 28, also missed out on spots on the plane.
Coach Steve Hansen preferred four centres ahead of Laumape – Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Jack Goodhue and Ryan Crotty – with the latter three picked despite recent injuries.
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