Owen Franks will be looking to prove a point to Bakkies Botha after he called the All Blacks prop a ‘fatty’ last year.
Botha was on fine form on the playing field during last year’s British & Irish Lions series, while his verbal battles with Welsh scrumhalf Mike Phillips have also become legendary. Botha carried on in that vein during the Tri-Nations, and as Franks came on as a substitute for his first Test against the Boks in Bloemfontein, the Bok lock welcomed him with the usual physical onslaught and by calling him a ‘fatty’.
After the Test Franks could only laugh at the incident, but says he’ll be hoping to ensure the All Blacks get on top so that the Bok verbals are at a minimum.
‘I guess there is the odd person that throws a bit of chat out there,’ Franks told The Press. ‘But I guess they [South Africa] were on top and when you are on top of a team, and really want to dig it in, you chuck the knife in and say a few words. And I guess that was what they were doing.
‘Hopefully it will be different on Saturday night.’
Franks, 22, spoke of the All Blacks’ need to improve at scrum-time.The Boks’ came into last year’s Tri-Nations with their scrum under scrutiny, but now the Kiwis are the ones under pressure after Wales provided them with a Test at the set-piece, which resulted in New Zealand constantly winning sloppy ball.
‘We haven’t been really satisfied with the scrum,’ said Franks. ‘Maybe it is combinations, and I think the more work, the more you get out of it.’
At Eden Park Franks will start alongside local Blues players Keven Mealamu and Tony Woodcock, and he realises a strong performance will go a long way to proving to Graham Henry that he’s New Zealand’s best tighthead.
‘This is my chance,’ he said. ‘Just to be consistent in the way I play.’