30 Jul 2009

All Blacks promote Franks and Cowan

5:15 am on 30 July 2009

The 21-year-old tighthead prop Owen Franks and halfback Jimmy Cowan have been added to the New Zealand team to play South Africa in Sunday morning's Tri -Nations clash in Durban.

Franks, 21, will make his first starting appearance for the All Blacks after being selected in place of Neemia Tialata, who sprained his right knee against the Springboks last weekend.

Cowan replaces Brendon Leonard in the second of two changes to the run-on side that was beaten 28-19 in Bloemfontein.

Leonard was dropped from the 22-man squad with Piri Weepu retained as the back-up halfback while prop John Afoa joins the reserves.

Head coach Graham Henry says he feels for Leonard because he was given an opportunity and it didn't quite happen for him, partly because he reflected how the team was playing as a whole.

However he says Leonard has a lot of ability and has a big future, he just needs more game time.

Henry says Franks will add a mean edge to the All Black pack against a notoriously big set of Springbok forwards while Cowan's a good defender, which is all important if the scrum does not have the edge, and can also kick well.

The team: Tony Woodcock, Andrew Hore, Owen Franks, Brad Thorn, Isaac Ross,Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (captain), Rodney So'oialo; Jimmy Cowan, Stephen Donald, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Josevata Rokocoko, Mils Muliaina. Reserves: Keven Mealamu, John Afoa, Jason Eaton, Kieran Read, Piri Weepu, Luke McAlister, Cory Jane.