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Professional rugby life has suited Franks

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Lynn McConnell     23 Aug 2018     Getty Images

Not one to be concerned about individual feats - he hasn't scored a Test try yet – he won't be able to ignore the spotlight at the weekend when he plays his 100th Test match.

A player whose volubility has advanced in near equal measure to his Test caps, he spoke on Thursday of becoming the ninth All Black to reach his century.

Franks said he was proud of being able to maintain a standard of performance sufficient to retain his place in the side because there was always competition coming through, and that was also a reflection of durability.

That durability was down to constant improvement and putting more effort into his body as he got older. A lot more time was required in warming up and warming down as his Test appearances mounted.

Rugby, however, did provide him with a lifestyle he loved which allowed him to be a professional athlete paid to train and play, the two things he enjoyed with the added bonus of travel being thrown in as well.

There were parts of it there were just a job but at all times he reminded himself that he was in a privileged position and to make the most of it.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said Franks' professionalism was behind his durability. "He's a 120 percenter. Not many people would go to their wedding and have their wife have a protein shake in her pocket."

Franks explained that by saying he wasn't sure if the wedding caterers were going to have enough food so he pre-packaged a protein shake just to make sure that he didn't get 'hangry' [hungry-angry] during all the speeches.

But Hansen continued: "He's a dedicated athlete. He and his brother [Ben] set some massive standards on how to prepare and what lengths they would go to to make sure they turned up on Saturday in the best condition they can.

"He should be commended for that; he's risen the bar in this team without having to say too much," he said.

Referring to the discussion he had earlier in his career with Franks about his other skill sets, Hansen said if players wanted to play the sort of game the All Blacks played everyone needed to be able to catch and pass.

"My background,as most people know, was that I played in the backs and then I got an opportunity to coach in the forwards and didn't know a hell of a lot about it at the start.

"But one thing I did know was that those guys have got the same ability to learn skills as backs do so why can't they catch and pass, why can't they run with the ball?

"Whilst they were learning that I was learning the technical stuff about scrums and lineouts so it's been a joint path of learning I guess," he said.

It was early on when he had the discussion with Franks. He was a player who loved to scrum, and loved to scrum, and loved to scrum.

"There's more to the game than that and that was his challenge and one that he's taken up and I think he's turned into a really good all-round rugby player."

At the same time the core role still had to be done well and you didn't play 100 Tests if you weren't doing that, Hansen said.

"Our scrum has just got better and better over time and a big part of that is your tighthead so he's got to take a bow there too."

Franks said he had always wanted to be known as more than just a scrummager and he felt earlier props Greg Somerville and Carl Hayman had set the standard in the way they did their work around the field.

Hooker Codie Taylor, who also plays with Franks for the Crusaders, described the prop as being 'like an insurance policy'. He was always doing his job, was the ultimate professional and took things seriously when it came to rugby and his performance.

Just how seriously was evident in Taylor's first year with the Crusaders in 2011 when he had seen Franks and his brother Ben have a fight which showed the intensity of what they were trying to do.

Franks' retort was: "We're both horrible fighters, we probably missed every punch."

Big brother Ben had been a key influence in his development, having been an All Black first.

"I thought if I can copy him, do half as well as him, I would be doing okay," he said.

"I tagged along with him and his friends. You can't beat having a training partner that's pushing you along the whole way and that's what we had," he said.