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Double World Cup-winner returns to New Zealand

TRANSFER NEWS: New Zealand tighthead prop Owen Franks, who had a stint with Toulouse in the Top 14 during the World Cup, has signed a contract with the Crusaders for the 2024 Super Rugby season, the Christchurch-based franchise announced on Wednesday.

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The 35-year-old, who has been capped 108 times by the All Blacks winning the World Cup in 2011 and 2015, returns to the side he played for at the start of his career, between 2009 and 2019.

“Coming back makes me realise what a privilege it is to play for this club,” he said in a statement.

“I’m playing rugby at this stage of my career because I enjoy it and still have plenty to give.”

Recruited as a World Cup joker, Franks played seven matches, including six as a starter, for Toulouse in the Top 14 between August and November.

“From what I’ve seen of his games for Toulouse, he’s in some of the best form of his career,” said Canterbury forwards coach Dan Perrin.

“He’s the ultimate professional and at 35 years of age is in his prime for a front rower.”

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The Crusaders have won the last five editions of Super Rugby, a competition currently made up of New Zealand, Australian and Fijian franchises.

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