Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ben Franks issues a stern warning to Cheetahs RICHARD KNOWLER 20/03/2012

The Crusaders forwards are ready to get nasty.
Having been buckled several times by the Chiefs' scrum during their 24-19 loss on March 9 and having had an extra week to grind their swords during the bye, the Crusaders pack are looking to slip the blade between the Cheetahs' ribs at Christchurch Stadium on Saturday night.
And anyone searching for reasons for that Chiefs ambush would have struck a brick wall in the form of Ben Franks at training yesterday.
"I'm not going to look for excuses," Franks maintained.
"They had a good night and that's it.
"We have put that game behind us – but in saying that in the first two weeks of the competition we have had 100 per cent top-quality ball for our backs. We just had an off night."
Franks, who started at loosehead against the Chiefs, said the extra week to stew over the defeat fuelled his determination but waved off suggestions extra scrum sessions with set-piece coach Dave Hewett were required.
"You don't forget how to scrum in one week. We had a bad night for a number of reasons and a lot of that was probably mental preparation. We have just to adapt."
In past seasons the Crusaders scrum have had a reputation for being a mob that delights in dishing out bad medicine; now they have tasted it themselves.
The All Blacks prop also couldn't ignore the chirping from prop Sona Taumalolo in Napier but added the Chiefs were much quieter when their scrum was demolished by the Crusaders last year.
"Yeah, he usually does [chirp].
"But I remember that last time we played them we got five or six tightheads on them. Short memories. They will come around. It is another game."
Yesterday, World Cup winning coach Graham Henry attended training as part of his new role as a mentor with the New Zealand Rugby Union and scrutinised areas where opponents were looking to expose them.
Changes are expected when the team is named on Thursday.
If Ryan Crotty recovers from his hamstring strain he will start at second five-eighth and Israel Dagg is expected to wear the fullback jersey for the first time tis season.
Lock Tom Donnelly is in doubt with a calf strain and may be replaced on the bench by Ross Kennedy, while blindside flanker George Whitelock is nursing a tender Achilles tendon. First five-eighth Dan Carter will be named on the bench.
Although Carter, who ruptured his groin at the World Cup, is fit he is still easing into his goal kicking tasks.
 Whitelock worry B9

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