Ash Barty dramatically abandoned her Internazionali d'Italia quarter-final against Coco Gauff on Friday due to a right arm injury.

The world number one was leading 6-4 2-1 in Rome when, with her left thigh also heavily strapped, she pulled out of the match following talks with a trainer.

Barty's decision was precautionary as she will begin her French Open campaign in a little over two weeks' time, bidding to regain the title she won two years ago.

The scare came just hours after world number three Simona Halep announced she tore a calf muscle this week, putting the Romanian's Roland Garros prospects in some doubt.

Providing an update after the match with Gauff, which was interrupted by a rain delay, Australian Barty said: "The pain was becoming too severe so it was important to listen to my body and do the right thing knowing we have a slam."

Gauff, who had hit 12 winners to 15 unforced errors prior to her opponent's withdrawal, will now compete in her first career WTA 1000 semi-final.

Karolina Pliskova remained on course for a second Rome triumph in three years, after saving three match points to edge out Jelena Ostapenko.

The 2019 champion, who also finished runner-up last year, was 5-4 down in the final set when digging deep to hold off her 49th-ranked opponent.

The thrilling match went to a tie-break and Pliskova reeled off seven straight points after losing the opener to advance 4-6 7-5 7-6 (7-1).

"I'm just proud of how I fought," Pliskova said at her post-match news conference. "I'm happy that I stayed in there and fought until the end.

"We played last month, so I knew what was going to be happening. You can never get ready for some of the balls which she's playing."

Petra Martic stands between Pliskova and a place in the final for the third year running after the Croatian defeated Jessica Pegula 7-5 6-4.

Pegula eliminated Naomi Osaka earlier in the week but was second best against Martic, who progressed in one hour and 40 minutes.

Martic trailed 2-0 in the opening set before twice breaking Pegula to move 3-2 in front, but her opponent hit back to make it 5-5 in a tight contest.

However, Martic managed to break in the 11th game and served out the set, before showing her steeliness in the second to remain on course for a maiden WTA 1000 crown.  

Caleb Ewan sprinted to his second victory of this year's Giro d'Italia and moved into the points jersey after his stage seven triumph.

The Lotto Soudal rider beat Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-up Nation) and Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) in a sprint finish at the end of a 181km stage from Notaresco to Termoli.

Australian Ewan, who also triumphed on stage five, now has five career stage wins at the Giro and 11 victories to his name across the three grand tours.

Towards the end of a quiet stage, Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) - who ultimately finished sixth - made the first move but was unable to make it stick, with Ewan winning comfortably.

Attila Valter of Groupama-FDJ remains in the leader's pink jersey after finishing safely in the peloton. He is 11 seconds clear of Remco Evenepoel.

"It was a question of being smart and a lot of teamwork," stage winner Ewan said as he described the finish over some tight and twisty roads.

"There were a few points in the last 10km where we needed to be in the front so we didn't have to brake and we got a really good ride in. They did a really good job.

"My legs were burning at the end, it was basically sprinting for the last 450 metres with a slight uphill so it was a tough one.

"When Gavaria goes you know he has the strength and the speed to hold it. I had a bit of a run and really accelerated."
 

STAGE RESULT  

1. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) 4:42:12
2. Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-up Nation) same time
3. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) "
4. Matteo Moschetti (Trek-Segafredo) "
5. Andrea Pasqualon (Intermarche - Wanty - Gobert Materiaux) "

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ) 26:59:18
2. Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick Step) +0.11
3. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) +0.16

Points Classification         

1. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) 106
2. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) 83
3. Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka Assos) 76

King of the Mountains

1. Gino Mader (Bahrain Victorious) 26
2. Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroen Team) 18
3. Vincenzo Albanese (Eolo-Kometa) 16

Andrea Pirlo feels he and his Juventus players could have done much more in their meek Serie A title defence.

Juventus host Inter on Saturday in a game that looked set at one time to be a blockbuster Scudetto decider.

However, the Old Lady will welcome Antonio Conte's freshly crowned champions with their own form having fallen away, to the extent Champions League qualification is now out of Juve's hands.

"Inter have done better, have been more consistent and hungrier than us," Pirlo told a pre-match news conference.

"Facing the newly crowned Italian champions gives us more motivation. Let's not forget that we have a chance to qualify for the Champions League. Inter will try to win the game.

“Congratulations to Inter for the Scudetto, but we could have done more."

Despite Juve sitting perilously in fifth, a point behind Napoli in the final Champions League qualifying spot with two games remaining, Pirlo explained next Wednesday's Coppa Italia final against Atalanta would come into his thinking with regards to selection.

"Alex Sandro plays tomorrow because he's suspended for the Coppa Italia final," Pirlo said.

"For the others, we will see. We must recover energy."

Defender Merih Demiral is fit to feature for the first time since March following thigh problems, bolstering a Juve squad who returned to winning ways by beating Sassuolo 3-1 away last time out, on Wednesday evening.

"The performance on Wednesday suggests that we are sorry, we could have had more points by always remaining as focused as we were in Reggio Emilia," Pirlo added.

"At the end of the year, we will review the whole season, analysing the mistakes to not commit them again."

Manchester United midfielder Fred has been called up to the Brazil squad for the first time since 2018 for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers with Ecuador and Paraguay.

The most recent of Fred's 11 senior international caps came in a 2-0 friendly win over Saudi Arabia two and a half years ago.

He has featured regularly for club side United once again this season, however, and has been included in Brazil's 24-man squad for their next set of Qatar 2022 qualifying fixtures.

Fred wrote on Twitter: "A great joy to represent my country again. Always proud to be called up. Let's go again!"

The 28-year-old was criticised by a number of pundits for his performance in Thursday's 4-2 Premier League defeat to Liverpool, but United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has regularly stood by the midfielder.

Fred has attempted 3.08 tackles per 90 minutes in the Premier League this term, the sixth highest average among all players to have played at least 20 times.

His 59.04 successful passes per 90 minutes, meanwhile, is behind only Nemanja Matic (76.56) in terms of United players to have played eight or more league games in 2020-21.

The ex-Shakhtar Donetsk player's passing has also improved during his time at Old Trafford, with Paul Pogba (9.47) the only United regular averaging more passes into the final third than Fred's 9.41 per game.

Asked at a news conference on Friday about his decision to recall Fred, Brazil head coach Tite said: "He has been included because of his high-level performances at United, the team that is second in the Premier League."

Fred is joined in the squad by veteran full-back Dani Alves, who last featured for Brazil in October 2019, while Lucas Paqueta, Gabriel Barbosa and Everton Ribeiro are also included.

The Selecao were last in action six months ago when seeing off Uruguay 2-0 to make it four wins from four in their CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying group.

The fifth and sixth rounds of fixtures were scheduled to take place in March, but all the games were called off due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

Brazil are gearing up for a busy period as the Copa America - originally due to be held last year - takes place between June 13 and July 10.

Tite will name his squad for the tournament on June 9 and is hoping to continue building momentum over the next couple of games.

"We have a very high expectation," Tite said. "It is a difficult moment for everyone. These games give us a chance to be in contact with the players.

"We will look at continuing with our performances and results. Right now it is only possible to think about these two games and nothing else."


Brazil squad: Alisson (Liverpool), Ederson (Manchester City), Weverton (Palmeiras); Alex Sandro (Juventus), Dani Alves (Sao Paulo), Danilo (Juventus), Eder Militao (Real Madrid), Renan Lodi (Atletico Madrid), Lucas Verissimo (Benfica), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), Thiago Silva (Chelsea); Casemiro (Real Madrid), Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa), Everton Ribeiro (Flamengo), Fabinho (Liverpool), Fred (Manchester United), Lucas Paqueta (Lyon); Everton (Benfica), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Gabriel Barbosa (Flamengo), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Richarlison (Everton), Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid).

Simona Halep revealed her Rome withdrawal this week was caused by a torn calf muscle, a blow that casts doubt on her prospects of playing the French Open.

Former world number one Halep had to be helped off court by coach Darren Cahill after she was injured while leading Angelique Kerber 6-1 3-3 in the second round of the Internazionali d'Italia on Wednesday.

The two-time grand slam champion on Friday announced the extent of her injury. Her misfortune comes with just over two weeks remaining until the clay-court grand slam at Roland Garros gets under way on May 30.

Wimbledon is the next major on the calendar after the Paris slam, with the All England Club tournament scheduled to start on June 28 in London.

"After an MRI here in Rome I can confirm that I have small tear high up in the left calf," Romanian Halep posted on her social media accounts.

"I will fly home today and begin recovery in the pool and gym on Monday.

"I'm staying positive and will do everything i can to speed up my return."

Halep, now 29 years old, won her first major title in Paris three years ago and went on to be crowned Wimbledon champion in 2019.

The Turkish Grand Prix has been withdrawn from the Formula One calendar for June and replaced by a second race in Austria.

Istanbul was was added to the schedule two weeks ago as a replacement for the Canadian Grand Prix, which was called off due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

However, that June 13 event has now been dropped for the same reason, with Turkey added to the travel 'red list' for many countries.

The weekend of June 11-13 will now be left clear, while the French GP has been brought forward by a week to June 18-20.

There will then be consecutive weekends of action at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, with the Styrian GP followed by the Austrian GP.

A record 23 races therefore still remain scheduled for the 2021 season, which continues with the Monaco GP next week.

F1 president Stefano Domenicali said: "We were all looking forward to racing in Turkey but the travel restrictions in place have meant we are not able to be there in June.

"F1 has shown again that it is able to react quickly to developments and find solutions and we are delighted that we will have a double-header in Austria, meaning our season remains at 23 races.

"I want to thank the promoter and authorities in Turkey for all of their efforts in recent weeks and want to thank the promoters in France and Austria for their speed, flexibility and enthusiasm in accommodating this solution.

"We have had very good conversations with all the other promoters since the start of the year and continue to work closely with them during this period."

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton prevailed at the Spanish Grand Prix last time out and leads the drivers' standings after the first four rounds of the 2021 season.

Time is running out to secure precious fantasy football points as the Premier League season nears an end.

Manchester City have the title in the bag, but it may still be all to play for in fantasy leagues heading into the penultimate weekend of the campaign.

With some teams still having three games to play in a hectic schedule, it will be vital to make the right picks and ensure points could potentially mean prizes.

Here are a few tips to help you out, powered by Opta, as always...

 

EDERSON

City travel to Newcastle United on Friday for their first match since being crowned champions.

They have won 11 consecutive Premier League away matches and a 12th victory at St. James' Park would see them break the all-time record in the top four tiers of English football.

City have kept 16 clean sheets on their travels in all competitions this season and are one away from equalling the record by a top-flight team in a season.

Newcastle have managed just 41 shots in seven Premier League games against Pep Guardiola's side, so another clean sheet could be on the cards for Ederson, who has more than any other goalkeeper in the division this season (18).

 

TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD

Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold was outstanding in the 4-2 victory at Manchester United on Thursday.

With England boss Gareth Southgate watching on, Alexander-Arnold caught the eye with an influential display as Jurgen Klopp's side claimed three precious points in the battle for a Champions League spot.

The Reds travel to relegated West Brom on Sunday knowing a win would leave them just a point behind fourth-placed Chelsea with two games to play.

Since he was omitted from the last England squad in March, Alexander-Arnold has created more chances than any other top-flight player with 21, making him a necessity for your XI.

 

LUCAS DIGNE

Everton full-back Lucas Digne has enjoyed another impressive season for Carlo Ancelotti's side.

The Toffees entertain bottom club Sheffield United at Goodison Park on Sunday as they hunt a place in Europe next season.

France international Digne can make an impact at both ends of the pitch, with his seven assists the joint-highest by a defender in the Premier League this season, along with Aaron Cresswell of West Ham.

Everton have kept four clean sheets in their previous six matches with Digne in the side too, so will be aiming to blunt the Blades on Merseyside.

 

MATHEUS PEREIRA

Brazilian forward Matheus Pereira has been a shining light in a poor season for West Brom.

The Baggies were unable to avoid an immediate return to the Championship, a defeat to Arsenal last weekend consigning Sam Allardyce to a first relegation from the Premier League.

Albion will be desperate to keep hold of Pereira, who has scored five goals in six matches ahead of the encounter with Liverpool.

He has been directly involved in 15 goals this season, with only Peter Odemwingie (22 in 2010-11) and Romelu Lukaku (21 in 2012-13) managing more involvements for the Baggies in a Premier League campaign.

 

SON HEUNG-MIN

Tottenham face Wolves at home on Sunday smarting from a 3-1 defeat at Leeds United last time out.

Son Heung-min scored Spurs' only goal at Elland Road, where the London club's slim hopes of securing a Champions League spot were all-but ended.

The South Korea forward has been directly involved in four goals in three games under caretaker boss Ryan Mason, scoring three and setting one up.

Son has found the back of the net in three consecutive Premier League games and will be a major threat to Wolves. He had managed just one goal in his previous seven outings in the competition during the final stages of Jose Mourinho's reign.

 

SERGIO AGUERO

City's all-time leading goalscorer Sergio Aguero issued an apology after his embarrassing Panenka penalty gave Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy the simplest of saves last weekend.

Aguero will be determined to make amends as he nears the end of his time with City and could take his frustration out on Newcastle.

The Argentina striker has scored 15 goals in 14 Premier League games against the Magpies, averaging one every 61 minutes, and it would be no surprise to see him add to that tally.

 

MICHAIL ANTONIO

West Ham head south to face Brighton and Hove Albion on the back of a 1-0 home defeat to Everton that left their chances of qualifying for the Champions League hanging by a thread.

They will need to respond on the south coast against a Brighton side who are safe now.

Antonio has been directly involved in 14 goals in his past 13 away Premier League starts, netting 11 times and providing three assists.

He can trouble the Seagulls and improve those numbers. Indeed, the forward has scored 24 times for the Hammers on the road in the competition, five more than any other player for the club.

The Hurricanes beat the Waratahs 64-48 in a 17-try thriller and the Highlanders hammered the Reds as Super Rugby Trans-Tasman got under way on Friday.

Julian Savea and Billy Proctor claimed doubles as the impressive Hurricanes scored 10 tries in a pulsating contest, which saw the two sides rack up over a century of points at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Savea opened the scoring with an early try to help his side go in at half-time with a 33-24 advantage, Proctor dotting down twice either side of scores from Jordie Barrett and Dane Coles.

Alex Newsome, Angus Bell and Jake Gordon crossed for the Australian team in the first half as defensive frailties were exploited at both ends of the pitch.

Savea finished again early in the second half in a try-fest before Brayden Iose, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Pepesana Patafilo and Asafo Aumua got in on the act, while Barrett was on target with seven of his conversion attempts.

Harry Johnson-Holmes scored two of the beaten Waratahs' four second-half tries during what was an incredible contest.

Super Rugby Trans Tasman | Waratahs v Hurricanes - Rd 1 Highlights

The @Hurricanesrugby needed 10 tries to see off the @NSWWaratahs on Friday night, as Super Rugby Trans Tasman served up a 17-try shootout in Sydney.#SuperRugbyTT #WARvHUR pic.twitter.com/LulSssUJrv

— Super Rugby (@SuperRugby) May 14, 2021

The Highlanders' victory completed a double for the New Zealand franchises after the Reds were beaten 40-19 in the other fixture.

Ash Dixon scored a try in each half at Forsyth Barr Stadium following an early score from Scott Gregory. Sio Tomkinson, Liam Coltman and Ngatungane Punivai also went over.

Suliasi Vunivalu claimed a brace of tries but the new Super Rugby AU champions came back down to earth with a bump following their title triumph.

Thomas Tuchel believes Chelsea face "two finals" against Leicester City over the course of four days that could do much to define their revival under his leadership.

The Blues have been a team reborn since Tuchel succeeded Frank Lampard as head coach in January and Saturday's FA Cup final at Wembley is their first of two shots they have at silverware – the other coming in the Champions League final against Manchester City in Porto at the end of this month.

Chelsea and Leicester will reconvene on Tuesday with qualification for next season's Champions League still on the line, especially after contrasting fortunes in their most recent fixtures.

Leicester won 2-1 at Manchester United to move ahead of Chelsea in fourth, who went down to a lacklustre 1-0 derby loss at home to Arsenal.

Liverpool, who also beat United in their match at Old Trafford on Thursday, could be one point behind Chelsea by the time Tuchel's men are back in league action and he lamented his team's failure to be "decisive" in the Arsenal game.

"Obviously I cannot judge it," he said when asked which game was more important. "These are two finals and we do not think about anything else but the two finals.

"It's a final for the cup, it's a final for the top four. We missed a chance against Arsenal to be decisive and now we have to cope with it – first of all to show a reaction at Wembley and have the upper hand when it comes to Tuesday."

Tuchel took his share of the blame immediately after Emile Smith Rowe was gifted the only goal by a dire Jorginho backpass at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, and he conceded his irritation at the result had not quite subsided.

"'I still have a hangover from the last defeat, it's always like this. I'm a bit more in angry mode, not at myself or the players but because of the result and the opportunity we missed," he explained.

"I will hopefully transform that to a good preparation and push the team to the edge to play sharp. We have to show a reaction, it's the FA Cup final at Wembley.

"I am fully focused to prepare my team better than two days ago."

On Thursday, the Champions League final was relocated from Istanbul to Porto due to Turkey being on the UK government's "red list" for travel in relation to COVID-19 restrictions.

Tuchel insists his squad should not be paying any attention to an eagerly anticipated fixture still two weeks away.

"I'm happy to go to Porto, I'm happy to go to a final. That's the easy answer - I would go anywhere to play a final," he said.

"But right now the bigger challenge is to forget the Champions League final and to be fully focused on our two finals that are ahead of us.

"We cannot lose one percentage of concentration and focus. We did this the last game against Arsenal and we got punished for it. Lesson learned and well accepted."

Kepa Arrizabalaga will keep his place at Wembley as Chelsea's cup goalkeeper and Tuchel confirmed Mateo Kovacic was fit to feature again after a month on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.

"It's huge because Mateo has everything we need in the midfield," he added. 'Experience, power, he can beat players, he has physical ability and has played big games in the Premier League. 

"When we missed N'Golo [Kante] and Mateo, we lacked a lot of quality, energy and experience.

"Billy [Gilmour] did a huge job in huge games but it's not fair to compare him to these players because they have more experience and are a step ahead in their development. 

"It's big news that [Kovacic] is back because he's a big guy in the dressing room around important matches."

Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos has been placed in isolation after being in contact with a person who has tested positive for coronavirus.

All tests conducted on Kroos up until this point have come back negative but he is now at home as per COVID-19 protocols.

Madrid are playing away against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday in their penultimate LaLiga game of the season.

They are locked in a thrilling title race with Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, as their city rivals lead the standings by two points with only two matches to go.

"Real Madrid reports that our player Toni Kroos is currently in isolation after being in contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, although all tests carried out on the player have come back negative," read a statement from the club on Friday.

It will be hoped that Kroos' situation does not evolve as Federico Valverde's did last month.

Valverde initially had to isolate due to being a close contact before producing a positive test five days later which then ruled him out of a key Champions League match with Chelsea.

Kroos has been a key figure for Madrid this season, featuring in 28 of their league matches.

After a gruelling schedule, he was rested by Zinedine Zidane last time out against Granada ahead of the testing trip to San Mames.

Matt Derbyshire bagged a brace as Macarthur climbed up to second in the A-League with a 3-1 win over Melbourne Victory.

Veteran striker Derbyshire seized upon a slack pass to dink home a cheeky finish in the fourth minute – the earliest goal by any Macarthur player in the A-League.

The hosts were indebted to a magnificent point-blank save by Adam Federici from Rudy Gestede that preserved their lead – an advantage that was doubled in the 39th minute when wing-back James Meredith headed home Jake McGing's cross to crown a fine team move.

Elvis Kamsoba reduced the deficit for second-bottom Victory after substitute Lleyton Brooks sprung the offside trap and his shot came back off the post.

But Derbyshire was played in by Michael Ruhs to coolly slot home his 13th goal of the season, strengthening Macarthur's grip on a finals berth and moving them nine points behind runaway leaders Melbourne City.

Lille winning Ligue 1 would be "something huge for French football" according to their former striker Eder.

Christophe Galtier's side could be crowned champions on Sunday when they host Saint-Etienne, if their result in that match betters Paris Saint-Germain's efforts against Reims.

Even if the race goes to the final weekend, a three-point lead with two games to play and the title race being in Lille's hands represents a phenomenal achievement.

PSG have won seven of the past eight top-flight titles in France, but Eder has observed a competition reborn this season – something he feels would be validated by Lille completing an unlikely march to glory.

"I think it's amazing for the championship because a lot of people have been saying that the French championship is PSG and no others," he told Stats Perform.

"I think that a lot of people, a lot of teams this year have been proving that they are there to compete with PSG, like Lyon and Monaco. They are having a great season.

"Lille have been doing amazingly well and I think that this is going to be something huge for French football."

Eder represented Lille between 2016 and 2018, a span that took in his undoubted career highlight – a goalscoring turn off the bench to snatch a 1-0 extra time victory for Portugal over hosts France in the final of Euro 2016.

The Portuguese link at Lille remains strong, with veteran centre-back Jose Fonte and playmaker Renato Sanches team-mates of Eder's in Fernando Santos' Euro 2016 squad.

Fonte and Sanches are joined by countrymen Tiago Djalo and Xeka in Galtier's side.

"We have groups of chats, and we are always cheering for Jose Fonte," Eder added. "We have our fingers crossed and we hope that he is going to win."

Fonte has played 35 of Lille's 36 Ligue 1 games this season.

Of defenders to have played more than 20 times in the division, none can better the 37-year-old's 68.7 per cent duel success rate.

The British and Irish Lions have confirmed a revised schedule for this year's tour of South Africa.

All eight matches will be played in either Gauteng or Cape Town to reduce the risk of disruption potentially caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Warren Gatland's side start the trip with a fixture against the Lions in Johannesburg on July 3, rather than facing an SA Invitational team which would have been chosen from players across the country.

The tourists will play three games against provincial opposition in Gauteng before heading to Cape Town, where they will play another two warm-up games ahead of the first Test.

The Lions, who will be captained by Alun Wyn Jones, will then take on the Springboks twice at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg to complete the series.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has caused considerable disruption to the global sporting calendar, but after discussions with our partners at SA Rugby, we are very pleased to be able to give confirmation of the revised tour schedule," said Lions managing director Ben Calveley.

"While things will undoubtedly look different to a typical Lions tour, together with SA Rugby we are determined to deliver an uninterrupted Series for the players who will take the field, as well as the many millions of people watching at home.

"We would like to thank all Lions supporters for their patience and understanding as we continue to navigate our way through the impact of the pandemic, and also extend our enormous gratitude to our commercial partners for their incredible ongoing support."

 

British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa schedule:

July 3: Lions (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg)
July 7: Sharks (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg)
July 10: Bulls (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)
July 14: South Africa A (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town)
July 17: Stormers (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town)
July 21: South Africa (First Test, Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town)
July 31: South Africa (Second Test, FNB Stadium, Johannesburg)
August 7: South Africa (Third Test, FNB Stadium, Johannesburg)

New Zealand legend Owen Franks is returning to his homeland to join the Hurricanes on a two-year deal.

The two-time Rugby World Cup winner moved to England in 2019 for a spell with Northampton Saints.

Former Crusaders prop Franks is on the move again after deciding to resume his Super Rugby career.

"I'm excited to be getting back into Super Rugby next year with the Hurricanes after time in the UK," he said.

"My family and I are looking forward to a new challenge and being back in New Zealand and closer to friends and family is also important.

"I am very motivated to play at the highest level again and I am looking forward to working with the Hurricanes players and coaching teams and pushing for success in 2022 and 2023."

Hurricanes head coach Jason Holland said of Franks: "His record speaks for itself and what he has been able to achieve is a measure of his quality and professionalism.

"Owen's experience will be invaluable, not just for the younger players in our squad but our group as a whole."

Franks played 108 times for New Zealand in a stellar Test career.

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