Rugby league convert Sonny Bill Williams will make his Test debut for the All Blacks against England after being named in a powerful New Zealand line-up on Thursday.
Williams was one of four changes from the side beaten by Australia in Hong Kong last weekend, and will form a physically imposing partnership with Ma’a Nonu at centre.
Following Williams’ inclusion in the squad for this weekend’s clash at Twickenham emerging prop Owen Franks backed the newcomer to make an impact.
“He’s pretty awesome – he’s a great athlete,” Franks said.
“I’m sure we’ll see him somewhere in that midfield – alongside Nonu as well, so that will be a pretty impressive pair.”
Franks, 22, also suggested that the All Blacks squad for the current end-of-year tour was unlikely to change much for next year’s World Cup.
“You’d like to think it would stay pretty much the same – certainly from a personal point of view but it’s my goal to be part of that World Cup,” Franks said.
“The World Cup gets mentioned every now and then by the players – it’s in the backs of everyone’s minds – but we’ve got other things we need to focus on at the moment.”
“I think we can improve everywhere – me need to get sharper and execute things better. Nothing’s ever perfect.”
Elsewhere in the All Black squad, Hurricanes wing Hosea Gear replaces the injured Cory Jane on the wing, while Blues halfback Alby Mathewson comes in for Jimmy Cowan, who has failed to make the 22 for Saturday’s game.
The other change sees second row Sam Whitelock replace Tom Donnelly in the pack, where he will partner another former rugby league player, Brad Thorn.
Owen Franks was speaking to promote the Anzac Challenge and appeared at The Goldhawk pub, where he was working the bar, serving Steinlagers to All Blacks fans.