Crusaders coach Scott Robertson would have welcomed back Owen Franks with open arms, if they could have squeezed him onto their roster for the 2022 season.
Newshub has revealed the former All Blacks prop has signed a one-year deal with the Hurricanes for next season's revamped Super Rugby.
Franks, who won three Super Rugby crowns in a 150-game, decade-long stint with the red-and-blacks, is returning home after two years with Northampton in the English Premiership.
Robertson has revealed the test centurion entered talks with his former franchise, but ultimately, neither side could make it work.
"We went through the process," Robertson says. "If we had a bit of space, we'd have loved to have Owie back.
"He has been great to us for a long period of time, but professional sport and timing didn't work. We had a full roster."
Franks' last Super Rugby appearance was the victorious 2019 Super Rugby final against the Jaguares.
The 33-year-old formed a daunting front row, alongside fellow All Blacks Joe Moody and Codie Taylor, as the Crusaders ran rampant during that season - losing just twice in 19 games.
But Franks missed selection for the 2019 Rugby World Cup before his move offshore and quietly disappeared from the New Zealand rugby melting pot.
Robertson believes the Hurricanes have pulled off a recruitment coup in inking Franks to a deal and admits the move north worked best for everyone involved.
"It's a professional game, that's where the opportunity was. We appreciate that he's made that decision, and it's best for him and his family."
Franks is the Hurricanes’ second high-profile former-Crusaders signing, with lock and former teammate Dominic Bird returning from France next season.
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