All Blacks omit Owen Franks from Rugby World Cup squad

All Blacks omit Owen Franks from Rugby World Cup squad”

Hansen said two-time World Cup victor Franks had fallen victim to changes in the game, with the likes of Atu Moli and Angus Ta'avao offering more versatility.

There is also a surprise in the loose forward mix, where three openside flankers are named while Chiefs flanker Luke Jacobson is included for his versatility.

Hansen said: "This Rugby World Cup looks like being the most fiercely-contested yet with a large number of teams all believing they can win".

"We believe the game requires us to have big, mobile No 1s and No 3s", Hansen said of the selection panel's rationale for dropping the tighthead.

"That's tough man, I'm really feeling for Owen", Read said. "I'm very respectful of how he coped with it, it's a mark of the man".

"The guys who have the honour and the privilege of representing us, we know that we got to turn up and make sure we represent us with as much pride as we can so that's going to be on us".

Ngani Laumape has been left out. "While Liam is playing really well for Tasman, he's really enjoying his rugby, at the conclusion of the conversation it was agreed he would make himself available if required as a replacement".

Brodie Retallick returns from a shoulder injury to partner Whitelock in the locks, backed up by Patrick Tuipulotu and Scott Barrett, who can also play in the back row.

In midfield, Hansen has opted for Jack Goodhue, Sonny Bill Williams, Ryan Crotty - who will return from a thumb injury this weekend - and Anton Lienert-Brown.

Hansen conceded it was a gamble to include world class lock Brodie Retallick, who is unlikely to have recovered from a dislocated shoulder for any of the pool games, most notably the blockbusting opener against South Africa on September 21.

"I'll speak to him, just flick him a text, it's hard what he is going through but we fully support him".

The holders have only two specialist fly-halves in their squad with Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo'unga included. Nine players will be going to their second tournament, while for 19 it will be their first time.

George Bridge, Jordie Barrett, Rieko Ioane, Sevu Reece and Ben Smith are the outside backs, while Perenara, Aaron Smith and Brad Weber are the halfbacks.

However, most observers still expected the double World Cup victor to be on the plane to Japan, but his name was not read out by All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, with Joe Moody, Nepo Laulala, Angus Ta'avao, Ofa Tuungafasi and Atu Moli the props chosen in his place.

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