Force sign NPC-winning former Maori All Blacks lock Tom Franklin

Wed, Jan 10, 2024, 11:15 PM
BS
by Ben Somerford

The Western Force have secured the signature of 2023 NPC title winner and former Maori All Blacks lock Tom Franklin for the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season.

Franklin has a decorated CV and comes fresh from being the starting lock for Taranaki as they won New Zealand’s 2023 National Provincial Championship.

The Opotiki-born lock was previously part of a Super Rugby-title winning squad with the Highlanders in 2015, called up by the All Blacks and represented the Maori All Blacks nine times between 2014 and 2019. Franklin, 33, brings 85 Super Rugby caps of experience, while he also has played in Japan with Kobelco Steelers.

Franklin’s addition provides further depth to the Force lock options, alongside Jeremy Williams, Izack Rodda, Felix Kalapu and Lopeti Faifua.

Force head coach Simon Cron said Franklin’s signing would bring immediate quality and experience in that department, plus he pointed to the lock’s recent title-winning success.

“An area that we’re light on has been lock, so we’ve been looking for somebody who can add value to the team straight away,” Cron said.

“Tom has knowledge around lineouts, skills around the park and most recently he was in the winning-Taranaki team at NPC level. Talking to his forwards coach, he was a big part of that.

“I coached against Tom when he was at the Highlanders and he was one of the best defensive lineout readers that we’d coach against. I was lucky to chat to him in Japan when he was playing for Kobe and you could see what he adds.

“With the age of our tight-five forwards we needed somebody who was a bit more experienced. Tom brings a high-skill, high-paced game with a good rugby brain and good knowledge. He’s also an awesome person who’ll help bring through a lot of our guys and play at the highest level still.”

Tom Franklin has joined Force training

Franklin, who arrived in Perth during the Christmas leave period and has resumed training with his new teammates, said he was thrilled to join the Force.

“I’m really happy to move to Perth and join the Force,” Franklin said. “I had a good chat to Crono and the coaches which excited me about the move, and I heard good things from ex-players like Marcel Brache who spoke about how the club is growing.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity to part of something with high aspirations to go to the next level. I’m excited to be part of that and excited to be back in Super Rugby and take on the challenge.”

The Force open their 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season on Friday 23 February 7pm against the Hurricanes at HBF Park. The team resumed pre-season this week after a two-week Christmas break.

Become a Force member today. The Force open their 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season on Friday 23 February 7pm against the Hurricanes at HBF Park.

The newly released 2024 Force playing jerseys, along with the Club’s 2024 merchandise range, are on sale now at the Club Store for $120 too, with Club Members entitled to 20% discounts on all merchandise.

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