'There is that depth there so anyone can step in' - Joe Moody braced for Test prop selection fight

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NZN

Joe Moody and Owen Franks like nothing more than an old fashioned front row stoush and they reckon they've got one - to reclaim their All Blacks jerseys.

Joe Moody tackled by Will Genia

Joe Moody tackled by Will Genia

Source: Photosport

The first-choice Test props since 2015, both were forced into extensive breaks midway through last season.

In a remarkable display of co-ordination, the heavyweight Crusaders pair went down within weeks of each other during the Rugby Championship, underwent surgery and began rehabilitating for a targeted return in April.

Franks, the 95-Test tighthead, had ongoing Achilles tendon problems to alleviate while loosehead specialist Moody underwent a shoulder operation.

Powerhouse loosehead Moody says the pair's delayed return midway through the Super Rugby campaign allows even more time for the likes of Kane Hames, Nepo Laulala and Ofa Tu'ungafasi to push their claims.

The young trio impressed hugely on the season-ending tour of Europe, with the All Blacks scrum arguably their strongest facet while other parts of the world champions' game struggled to click.

"You can't fault them really. It was a good end of year tour as far as set piece went," Moody said.

"There's no opportunity for me to slacken off because nothing's a given. There is that depth there so anyone can step in."

The 29-year-old nearly has full range of motion back in his shoulder and is desperate to return to the Super Rugby champions after months of training on his lonesome.

He has been unable to recuperate alongside good mate Franks as the pair are coming off such different injuries.

"I hate doing all the conditioning and running blocks by myself, lone ranger," he said.

"But I'm well aware that's going to be a big contributing factor for me getting back on the park and getting back in good nick."

Moody senses the Crusaders can have another season to match their title-winning charge last year but says coach Scott Robertson will know how to keep the players grounded.

"We had an awesome team environment and everyone wanted to play for each other," he said.

"Razor (Robertson) had a big influence on it. You always see what the media portrays him, as a bit of a clown.

"But he knows when to have fun and when it's time to work.

"Now it's time to do it all over again and do it even better than last year."

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