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Sentimentality has been cast aside in the name of speed as veteran prop Owen Franks was omitted from the All Blacks squad named to defend the Rugby World Cup in Japan. A veteran of 108 Tests, Franks has paid for deteriorating form this year and won’t contest his third tournament, having being part of the victorious teams of 2011 and 2015.
It means just three players – captain Kieran Read, inside centre Sonny Bill Williams and lock Sam Whitelock – are in contention to become the first players to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for a third time.
Coach Steve Hansen has leaned on youth and mobility in some of his more contestable selections. Props Atu Moli and Angus Ta’avao have played just nine Tests between them but their athleticism is deemed to be an intrinsic part of a high-paced New Zealand game plan.
“Unfortunately as the three selectors, we believe the game requires us to
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