Rugby World Cup: All Blacks drop Owen Franks from squad

Owen Franks
With his move to Europe leaving him ineligible for selection, Franks' All Blacks career could be at an end

New Zealand have surprisingly left Northampton-bound prop Owen Franks out of their 31-man Rugby World Cup squad.

Franks, 31, has won 108 caps but misses out with Atu Moli, yet to make an All Blacks start, among those preferred.

The holders have only two specialist fly-halves in their squad with Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo'unga included.

Centre Sonny Bill Williams, number eight Kieran Read and second row Sam Whitelock will attempt to win a third successive Rugby World Cup.

The trio were also part of the successful campaigns in 2011 and 2015.

Franks agreed a deal to join Northampton this summer at the end of his Crusaders contract.

However, he will now be free to start work at Franklin's Gardens earlier than expected after his omission from head coach Steve Hansen's final selection.

"He is one of the great All Blacks," said Hansen.

Ngani Laumape
The excluded Ngani Laumape has scored eight tries in 13 Tests - only six of which he has started

"His professionalism both on and off the field has been magnificent over the years, but unfortunately we believe the game requires us to have big mobile number ones and number threes and in this case, we just think the other guys that we've named are more so than he.

"Therefore we had to make a tough decision."

Centre Ngani Laumape is also left out as Hansen keeps faith in the experienced and versatile Ryan Crotty, who is on his way back from a thumb injury.

Flanker Liam Squire, who last appeared for the All Blacks in November's defeat by Ireland, misses out after injuries and personal problems hampered his season.

New Zealand World Cup squad

Forwards: Dane Coles, Liam Coltman, Codie Taylor, Nepo Laulala, Joe Moody, Atu Moli, Angus Ta'avao, Ofa Tuungafasi, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Sam Whitelock, Sam Cane, Luke Jacobson, Kieran Read (capt), Ardie Savea, Matt Todd.

Backs: TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Brad Weber, Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo'unga, Ryan Crotty, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Rieko Ioane, Sevu Reece, Ben Smith.

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