All Blacks prop Owen Franks' season over with surgery set for Friday

All Black lock Nepo Laulala

All Blacks prop Owen Franks will miss the remainder of the 2017 rugby season because of an Achilles tendon injury.

The two-time World Cup victor was a late withdrawal from the All Blacks squad for their thrilling win over Australia in Dunedin last month and having already been sidelined for the remainder of the Rugby Championship, the 29-year-old has opted to undergo surgery on Friday.

"It's better to get it right and let him have a full recovery and a pre-season and get back for the Crusaders", All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said.

Hansen also confirmed today that Sam Cane, Ryan Crotty and Wyatt Crockett are fit to return to the field after concussion-related injuries.

Wing Waisake Naholo, who was born in Fiji, will definitely be missing after he suffered a head knock whilst playing for Taranaki against Counties-Manukau at the weekend. "We will see how the operation goes first and foremost and then go from there".

Franks missed the Bledisloe Cup test win in Dunedin and was replaced by Laulala, who played strongly and now looks set for an extended run in the No 3 jersey.

There is still some uncertainty over Cane, prompting Hansen to promote uncapped Blues flanker Blake Gibson into the squad as injury cover. They've also tried to grow their running game.

"They are still in the middle changes of trying to change who they are and how they operate". "It's well documented we have a big season, and we're not even halfway through it yet and we've got a lot of travelling to do, so at some point we are going to have to be smart about who we select".

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