Rugby World Cup 2019: Owen Franks misses out on All Blacks' final 31-man squad

Veteran prop Owen Franks is the glaring omission from the All Blacks squad for the Rugby World Cup in Japan, starting next month.

Test centurion Franks has paid for deteriorating form this year and won't contest his third tournament, after contributing to the victorious teams of 2011 and 2015.

While coach Steve Hansen was quick to pay tribute to the Crusaders stalwart, his lack of versatility ultimately cost him his spot.

"He is one of the great All Blacks," said Hansen. "He's shown true character. His professionalism on and off the field has been magnificent over the years.

"We believe the game requires us to have big, mobile number ones and number threes, and in this case we think the guys we've named have more so than he. Therefore, we had to make a touch decision."

Atu Moli has benefited most from that decision, appointed as one of five props with Joe Moody, Angus Ta'avao, Nepo Laulala and Ofa Tu'ungafasi.

Hansen also dropped a surprise in his loose forward mix, where Chiefs flanker Luke Jacobson was included, despite playing just one test, off the bench against Argentina last month.

Rugby World Cup 2019: Owen Franks misses out on All Blacks' final 31-man squad

Jacobson's inclusion appears to have come at the expense of Jackson Hemopo, who featured during the All Blacks' Rugby Championship campaign.

There's also no room for Liam Squire, who declared himself available for selection this week, after taking a self-imposed hiatus from international rugby due to personal issues.

Hansen confirmed he'd discussed a potential late inclusion with Squire and they'd decided to use him as an injury replacement, if necessary.

"We had a really good phone call. Whilst Liam is playing really well for Tasman and really enjoying his rugby, at the conclusion of the conversation, it was agreed he would make himself available, if required, as a replacement."

Both Sevu Reece and George Bridge have earned spots in the outside backs after their breakout performances in the second Bledisloe Cup test at Eden Park, while Jordie Barrett and the underfire Rieko Ioane and Ben Smith round out the group.

In a crammed midfield, the selectors have opted for the experience of Ryan Crotty over Ngani Laumape, alongside an otherwise predictable trio of Sonny Bill Williams, Anton Lienert-Brown and Jack Goodhue.

Crusaders star Richie Mo'unga is the lone specialist first-five named, with Beauden Barrett available as back-up from his converted position at fullback.

Hansen also stated that Jordie Barrett, Ryan Crotty and TJ Perenara all had the ability to fill in at pivot, if needed.

Brad Weber has won the third-string halfback spot, rewarded for his stand-out season for the Chiefs.

Lock Brodie Retallick has been included, despite his shoulder dislocation that will likely see him play no part in the All Blacks pool games.

"We don't expect him to play in the round robin, but we're reasonably sure we should make the quarter-finals and from there, we don't know," Hansen said.

"We've rolled the dice to take him for that quarter-final and we'll take it from there."

The All Blacks will play a final warm-up game against Tonga in Hamilton on September 7, before they officially begin their quest for a third straight World Cup against South Africa on September 21 in Yokohama.


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