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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — For almost a decade he was the backbone of the All Blacks scrum and then, cruelly, he wasn’t.
Owen Franks’ 108 tests at tighthead prop, his two previous world championships, weren’t enough to earn him a seat on the plane to his third Rugby World Cup. When head coach Steve Hansen named his 31-man squad to play in Japan from next month, Franks’ omission was a resounding shock.
The 31-year-old strongman had planned to retire from test rugby after the World Cup, to finish his career in England. Hansen brought the moment of parting forward when he telephoned Franks and told him his international career was over.
Before announcing his squad, Hansen said those calls to players who had not been selected were “the toughest part of the job.”
He described Franks “one of the great All Blacks.”
“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 to
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