Gregor Paul

Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer

All Blacks: Faumuina's rise gives Franks welcome rest

Charlie Faumuina's selection to start at tight-head for the All Blacks on Saturday highlights his rapid rise to prominence but also brings into focus just how much hard work Owen Franks has got through in the last three years.

Faumuina is a cruise ship on legs, a serious slab of a man who has been of interest to the All Blacks since early last year. He became of particular interest this year when his form continued to climb and it was confirmed that the All Blacks would be able to have eight men on their bench for the November internationals in the northern hemisphere.

The trial laws come at a rather handy time as they will allow the All Blacks to better manage the workloads of all their props.

Franks has done it tough since he made his debut in late June, 2009. He has now played 41 tests in a little more than three years. He'll crack the 50 before he's 25 - an extraordinary feat for a tight forward given he might not reach his prime until he's 30.

But the All Blacks are a little wary of how much of a pounding Franks has taken since 2009. While he's freakishly strong, supremely conditioned and extremely professional in his recovery routines, there still lies a danger that he'll be burned out at 27 if he's thrown into every test.

While he needs to be managed, Faumuina is ready to be let loose and couldn't be happier to earn his start as the man next to him, Keven Mealamu, will be winning his 100th cap.

Mealamu has been a mentor to Faumuina - both men hailing from the Otahuhu Club in Auckland. "When Shag [Hansen] read out the team and I hear that I was starting, it was just an awesome feeling.

"I know I have to put my best foot forward. Keven has shown me the ropes [in my career] particularly at the scrum."

- Herald on Sunday

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