London Irish confirm Ben Franks signing on three-year deal
All Blacks prop to join Aviva Premiership club after Rugby World Cup
London Irish have confirmed the signing of Rugby World Cup-winning prop Ben Franks on a three-year deal.
The 30-year-old All Black, who can play on either side of the scrum, had been widely expected to join the club after this year’s Rugby World Cup in England.
I have been to have a look around Hazelwood and was very impressed with the set up. After speaking to the board and seeing the facilities, the ambition of the club is clear.
An experienced international with 42 caps and two tries to his name since making his debut in 2008, he has made over 100 appearances for the Crusaders and Hurricanes in Super Rugby, as well as playing his provincial rugby with Canterbury, Tasman and Hawke’s Bay.
The Melbourne-born forward revealed he was happy to move his family to England after taking a look at and being impressed by the club’s facilities.
“I am really looking forward to joining London Irish,” Franks said.
“I have been to have a look around Hazelwood and was very impressed with the set up.
“After speaking to the board and seeing the facilities, the ambition of the club is clear.
“It is a family friendly club, which played a big part in my decision to move my family over.
“London Irish also has a link with St Mary’s University where I will be able to study alongside playing rugby for the club.
“There is still work to be done in New Zealand, but my family and I are looking forward to joining the club next season.”
Franks is the latest New Zealand-based player to announce a move to the northern hemisphere, joining a growing exodus that includes three Hurricanes team-mates in Jeremy Thrush (Gloucester), Ma’a Nonu (Toulon) and Rey Lee-Lo (Cardiff Blues).
All Blacks legend Dan Carter (Crusaders to Racing Metro), Luke Braid (Blues to Bordeaux) and Tom Marshall (Chiefs to Gloucester) have also confirmed their departures at the conclusion of the 2015 Super Rugby season.
“Ben is a world class player and we are delighted that he has decided to sign with London Irish,” said London Irish operations director, Bob Casey.
“He is a family man with great rugby values.
“It is a real statement of intent that a player of his class and experience has signed and shows the ambition of the club and our owners.”
Waiting for Franks’ arrival at Hazlewood will be current Chiefs assistant coach and Samoa co-head coach Tom Coventry after the 48-year-old agreed a three-year deal to join the club as head coach, replacing Brian Smith who left the club by mutual consent last week.
Coventry knows his game very well and admitted he was delighted to hear that a player of Franks’ experience was joining the club.
“I’m pretty sure he has gone through the process of signing his contract with them for after the World Cup, but that was done before my involvement,” Coventry told Radio New Zealand last week.
“It’s good to have him there, another Kiwi and obviously a quality player, so I’m looking forward to being involved with Ben.
“Obviously I was training teams to try and combat Ben’s strength so it would be nice to have him on your side for a change.”