Owen Franks inks new All Blacks deal
Wednesday, December 21, 2016 allblacks.com Getty Images
The 28-year-old tighthead prop, who celebrates his 29th birthday tomorrow, has literally been a cornerstone of the All Blacks forward pack since making his Test debut in 2009 and is one of the side's most consistent players, missing just 15 Tests in seven full seasons.
Franks said: "After much thought and discussion, I'm pleased to confirm that I'll be staying in New Zealand until after Rugby World Cup 2019.
"Whilst there was considerable interest internationally, I felt I wasn't ready to give up playing with the best players in the game. I also believe that I haven't reached my full potential yet and don't want to leave until I feel I have."
Franks said he also wanted to acknowledge the effort made by NZR and the Crusaders in putting together a competitive package, saying it made his decision easier.
Franks played his 90th Test in the last match of the All Blacks' recent November Tour against France, is the second most capped All Blacks prop behind Tony Woodcock and the 10th most capped All Black of all time. He made his Super Rugby debut for the Crusaders in 2009 and has racked up more than 120 appearances for the club.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: "On behalf of the All Blacks and New Zealand Rugby, I want to congratulate Owen on his re-commitment to New Zealand. He's one of the best in the world in his position and his formidable work ethic, commitment to the team's values and outstanding play make him one of the most respected players in our team and we're very happy that he has decided to stay."
BNZ Crusaders Coach Scott Robertson said: "In this professional era of rugby, players of Owen's calibre can pretty much choose where they play so it is fantastic that he's chosen to continue his career here with the Crusaders. He is a core member of this team and contributes so much on and off the field. Owen is the consummate professional, and his dedication to being the best in every facet of his preparation will ensure that he continues to be at the top of world rugby for a long while yet."