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'All Blacks will be ready' - Ben Franks

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    04 Jul 2016     Getty Images

Franks, who played for the relegated London Irish team in England after last year's Rugby World Cup win, said while it was great to see England recovering from the low of their World Cup exit last year, their rise would not have gone unnoticed by the All Blacks.

"I obviously had an eye on New Zealand v Wales but THE series was England v Australia – and England played some fantastic rugby," Franks told The Rugby Paper.

"The Aussies came to the party in that last Test but, wow, there was some great rugby from England and that's exciting for the world game. It's a pity the All Blacks aren't playing England right now because I'd have loved to have seen that."

Franks said England had clearly closed the gap on the southern hemisphere sides and were playing with confidence under the changes new coach Eddie Jones had brought.

They had been able to handle the critical moments in games better and it was exciting to see them climbing back up the world rankings.

But that would serve to inspire the All Blacks, he said.

"When I was an All Black there was always something that motivated you when there was a team coming through and people started doubting you.

"I'm sure New Zealand will have been motivated by England, and will be thinking 'hey, are we still the No.1 side?' That'll make them work even harder – it's what you need to stay a top team.

"England are climbing the hill but the All Blacks will be ready," he said.

New Zealand look to have avoided any complacency resulting from their successful World Cup defence with their 3-0 win over Wales.

"The team was able to go on after 2011 and reach even greater heights, and now they've brought in some newer guys and against Wales they looked the part.

"I'm a big fan of flanker Ardie Savea so I'm glad to see he's been given an opportunity.

"The midfield is also where you'll see new combinations but Ryan Crotty and George Moala did pretty decent jobs and it'll be interesting to see how they go when they're tested more in the Rugby Championship," he said.

Having been part of the London Irish side that was relegated from the Premiership, Franks considered his options at the end of the season but after time to think he decided to stay with the club and to try and help it out of the Championship by the end of next season.