New Zealand legend Franks outlines how he hopes to be seen by Saints supporters

‘I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Owen yet and very rarely do I speak poorly of my players, but the reason I can say that is because he would tell anyone that asked him that’.

By Tom Vickers
Saturday, 16th January 2021, 7:00 am
Owen Franks
Owen Franks

Those are the words of Saints assistant coach Matt Ferguson when discussing Owen Franks.

The New Zealand legend arrived at Saints in the summer of 2019 with a big reputation and a sizeable collection of medals.

But it’s fair to say the move hasn’t quite worked out as all parties had hoped as yet.

Franks has made 23 appearances for the black, green and gold to date, but he has yet to truly stamp his mark on the side.

It was expected that he would be a regular starter who would take the Premiership by storm.

After all, he has won two World Cups and plenty of Super Rugby titles with the Crusaders.

He headed to England to experience a new style of rugby for the first time.

And Franks has admitted that it took him time to adjust to England’s top division, especially in the scrum.

“The nuts and bolts are the same, but mindset is definitely different and there’s a lot more aggression,” Franks said. “If teams smell blood, they go for you.

“I’ve learned a lot over the past six months, probably the most over my whole career, not in terms of technique but in terms of tactics.

“It’s probably shown me how important the basics are and it’s been really awesome for me.

“I’m happy with where we are at the moment, but I’m looking forward to going forward.”

Ferguson insists Franks’ best form is ‘right around the corner’.

And the prop agrees.

“I’ve learned a lot and I feel like I’ve started to put in some consistent performances, either from the start or from the bench,” Franks said.

“I’m just looking forward to more opportunities and like everything, once we get through this period of Covid, it will be good.

“I heard so much about the Saints crowd and I’ve only been able to experience it on a handful of times.

“I can’t wait until the supporters can get back and cheer us on and hopefully we can repay the faith with some good performances.”

However long he stays at Saints, Franks has a clear idea of how he would like to be remembered by the supporters when he departs.

“I want to keep improving, keep putting consistent performances on the field and really start to assert myself at scrum time,” he said.

“I feel like I’m making good strides in the scrum and if there’s a supporter watching me, I’d want him or her to think this guy does his job at scrum time and I’ve always prided myself on being an aggressive and physical player so I hope that’s what people see.”

Ferguson has loved working with Franks so far.

And when the coach is asked about the tighthead prop, he has predominantly positive things to say.

“He’s mentioned that he hasn’t been as consistent as he’s wanted to be,” Ferguson said. “But he’s been named in the world team of the decade so he’s got a bit of pedigree behind him.

“I’ve really enjoyed working with him and despite all the accolades he’s got, he’s the guy who has the biggest notebook of all the players because he hasn’t yet felt like he’s been that dominant, consistent performer he wants to be.

“That’s the most exciting thing because as long as he’s feeling he’s not achieved what he wants, we’re always going to get a hungry and angry Owen Franks, which is great for the Saints.

“Him coming in and driving himself has actually driven the other props. There’s no doubt that Paul Hill has massively increased his game because of the pressure that’s been put on him by Owen.”

And Franks knows that what he achieved in the past is put to one side by the coaches when they pick the team each week.

“Owen wants no freebies,” Ferguson said.

“We select our team every week based on the opposition we’re playing and the players we used to see day in, day out in training sessions.

“As much as he’s got great experience and is an unbelievable guy, he gets no freebies from me or Boydy, but no one does.

“He hasn’t got a rite of passage, he’s come here to do a job and it’s one I believe he will do.”