Scrum's the word as All Blacks star Owen gets set for Saints debut

After last Saturday's defeat at Bath, the first interview conducted by Owen Franks since arriving at Saints will be music to the ears of supporters.

Thursday, 14th November 2019, 7:00 am
Owen Franks

The 31-year-old met the media at Franklin's Gardens on Wednesday, having arrived from New Zealand last Thursday, and he was asked what exactly it was that temped him to Northampton.

"What attracted me to be here was a different competition and a really tough one," said former Crusaders prop Franks.

"I've been playing Super Rugby for about a decade now and it became a bit same-old for me.

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"Also to be a world class tighthead, as a scrummager you need to cut your teeth in the northern hemisphere, not just the southern hemisphere.

"There are different styles of scrummaging and that's the main appeal for me coming over here."

And how Saints could do with a boost in the scrum after the events at The Rec last weekend.

Up until they took the trip to the west country, they had more than held their own in the set piece this season.

But Bath found a way to get on top in the final half an hour of the match, winning a succession of scrum penalties that gave them the upper hand, despite the fact they had lost Aled Brew to a red card in the 48th minute.

Ben Franks, Owen's elder brother, and Paul Hill were both sin-binned during a frustrating finale that condemned Saints to their first Gallagher Premiership defeat of the season.

"I didn't see the game live, but I watched it after," Owen said.

"The Saints guys did well in the first half and obviously came a little bit unstuck in the second."

But the cavalry have now come in to help lift the squad ahead of Sunday's Champions Cup opener against Lyon at Franklin's Gardens.

And Owen looks set to get his first game time in the black, green and gold when the French giants come calling.

"There's a buzz around the place and I'm really excited because it's a competition I haven't played in," he said.

"Everything's new for me and very exciting.

"It seems like we've got a huge amount of depth here.

"I'm pretty new so I don't know everyone too well but it seems like a strong squad.

"I've had the buzz of meeting some of the local people and they expect big things from the club this season, which is pretty cool."

Owen's bid to settle in at Saints has been helped hugely by sibling Ben, who moved to Northampton in the summer of 2018.

And the pair spent a couple of days living with each other before Owen moved into his own house.

"It's really good here so far," Owen said.

"I've been here a week and a half now and I've stayed a couple of nights at my brother's house out in Bugbrooke, which is a really nice village.

"I've settled in Kingsthorpe now and I'm really lucky to have a nice place.

"It seems like a nice area with nice surrounding villages and countryside, which is awesome.

"It's been huge for me to have my brother here and him and his wife have helped me to set up all the things that make it hard when you shift, like bank accounts and the house.

"They've made my move really easy."

Owen earned 108 caps for the All Blacks, winning two World Cups alongside his brother in the process.

But he was left out of the World Cup squad for the recent tournament in Japan, meaning his was on standby before eventually being released to move to Saints.

"I was keen to get here earlier but I was on standby so I had to wait around a bit in New Zealand," said Owen.

"I've been excited to come here since I signed.

"I've been interested in the Premiership and English rugby for a long time and I've always been keen to come over here and cut my teeth.

"I was in limbo a little bit but it was quite good to get involved in the domestic rugby in New Zealand, the ITM Cup (with Canterbury).

"I was still able to keep match-fit and keep my mind off the World Cup, stay involved in rugby and look forward to being here."