All Black vows to solve Welsh front row problem
SPOTLIGHT: Welsh rugby finally returns next weekend when the four regions resume action in the Pro14.
But for Scarlets’ new scrum coach Ben Franks, this will be a new experience with fresh objectives.
Ben Franks former All Black World Cup winner announced he has plans to rejuvenate the career of “once in a generation” Welsh prop, Samson Lee.
The Scarlet’s prop took over the Welsh no.3 jumper from legendary front-row Adam Jones and burst onto the international stage immediately making a name for himself.
Sadly shortly after being lauded by Jones himself as a generational talent the Llanelli man suffered a serious Achilles tendon injury and has struggled to regain full fitness since.
However, Lee is now fighting fit again and eager to play a key role for the Scarlets this season who resume their Pro14 campaign against Cardiff Blues next weekend.
According to the Wales Online Franks who has recently joined head coach Glenn Delaney’s backroom team as scrum coach is confident he can coach Lee back to top form again.
“I’ve loved working with them so far. It’s good to be part of a group where there’s a good mix of experience and youth.”
Ben Franks talks scrums, learning and the appeal of @scarlets_rugbyADVERTISEMENT
— Scarlets Rugby (@scarlets_rugby) August 16, 2020
“I definitely think I can help Samson get better,” said Franks, in his first interview since arriving in Wales
“It’s about keeping fit and showing it in games. From what I’ve seen of him he looks like an international prop and I’m keen to help him get back to that level”
“I’m looking forward to seeing how he goes on the field of play now because it’s got to a point where you’re training so much you just need to play. I can see it in his eyes and the other players that they just need a game now”
“I know from past experience how tough it is coming back from injuries but the best thing for him is to get a good run of games under his belt. If he can do that, then his talent will show because that wouldn’t have gone anywhere”
On paper, it’s fairly obvious Scarlets have the strongest squad of the four Welsh regions and can boast some enviable resources in the front row with the likes of Rob Evans, Wyn Jones, Ken Owen and Ryan Elias. In light of this Franks is supremely confident he can coach the Scarlets scrum into becoming a potent weapon for them over the coming seasons.
“It’s a good opportunity for the young guys to learn and for me to listen to the older guys to see what they need.
“For me, learning was always motivating so if they are excited about learning and excited about the scrum sessions then that will help them improve.
“I’ve loved working with them so far. It’s not about me, it’s about what those guys want to do because they are the ones on the field and they are the ones who have got to execute it.
“There’s a lot of quality players in the Scarlets pack but the actual strength of the scrum is not about individual players it’s about working as an eight. That’s the toughest thing.
“You can take players out individually and help them work on areas where they can improve on, but getting them to work collectively as a pack is the real key to success. So that’s what we’ve been trying to spend a lot of time on.
“Confidence is also a big part of a successful scrum. There’s no magic formula.
“Over a number of games building some confidence can bring a scrum forward a long way. I’d like to think I can help them but I know it’s a process.”
This will be the Kiwi’s first involvement with his new club when they welcome the Cardiff Blues on Saturday and with the Dragons taking on the Ospreys the following day he’ll get the opportunity to size up all their Welsh rivals in his first weekend out.
In an illustrious playing career, Franks won 47 caps for New Zealand lifting the Webb-Ellis Cup alongside his brother Owen on two occasions.
Now, he insists he couldn’t have picked a better place to begin his coaching career than in Llanelli with fellow New Zealander Delaney.
“It was a good opportunity for me. I announced my retirement quite early before the lockdown and then on the first weekend of lockdown I got a call from Glenn [Delaney].
“It was too good of an opportunity for me to turn down. I’ve worked with Glenn before so I knew he’d be someone who I could work with while he’s also someone who could challenge me.
“I knew Scarlets are a good club. They have a lot of talented players and a great history so to be part of that was appealing.
“Also I and my family are small-town people and now that we live in Hendy it fits us to a tee. It ticked all the boxes for me both professionally and family-wise.”
Llanelli are lucky to have a man of this calibre to take them into the future and he’ll no doubt be instrumental in helping them to bring home the silverware in the coming years.
Source: @Scarlets_Rugby & WalesOnline