Over the top: Crusaders front-rower Owen Franks pulls off a tackle. Photo: Getty Images
It wasn't just Jacques Potgieter that reminded Owen Franks of South Africa whenever he watched the Waratahs.
Springbok lock Potgieter has been one of Michael Cheika's best forwards as the Waratahs, who have been unbeaten in Sydney this season, have roared into the Super Rugby grand final after an eight-match winning streak.
The vagaries of the Super Rugby draw meant the Crusaders did not play the Waratahs this season but Franks respects the way coach Cheika has moulded their pack into such a physical unit that could easily set up camp on the tip of the African continent.
Not meeting the New South Welshmen during the regular season will not be a disadvantage.
"I don’t think so," Crusaders tighthead prop Franks said. "I guess they are quite similar to the African teams. They have got a big forward pack, a good scrum and real explosive backs. They deserved to finish first [after the regular season]."
Cheika is expected to stick with Potgieter and Kane Douglas as his second-rowers, keeping Auckland-born lock Will Skelton, who is listed at 135 kilograms, on the bench for Saturday night's showdown at ANZ Stadium.
Having shaded the Sharks' scrum during Saturday night's 38-6 win in Christchurch, Franks should be quietly confident about the Crusaders front row's chances of holding their own against the Waratahs front row of Benn Robinson, Tatafu Polota-Nau and Sekope Kepu.
Being given the task of containing the Sharks pack was something Franks and his fellow tight forwards relished; in addition to nullifying their scrum, they disrupted their short lineouts with Sam Whitelock plundering several of Bismarck du Plessis' throws.
"As a tight five, yeah, we enjoyed it," Franks said. "They have one of the best scrums and lineouts in the competition and that's really our area – to get the job done and make the other guys' jobs easier."
Unlike the Sharks, who fell apart because of a poor kicking game and limited game plan, the Waratahs do not rely on Bernard Foley, Kurtley Beale and Nick Phipps to drive them to victory with their boots.
Instead, they carry well and their penchant for offloading in the tackle means men like fullback Israel Folau, wingers Alofa Alofa and Rob Horne and centre Adam Ashley-Cooper can record more running metres.
All Black Franks, 26, has won a World Cup medal but a Super Rugby title has eluded him since joining the Crusaders in 2009.
Like a number of his teammates who also played in the 2011 grand final loss to the Reds in Brisbane, he will recollect the fiery reception the Aussie fans can give on their home soil.
"I'm hungry to get one [a title] but am just staying in the present – just doing everything I can do give this team a chance of winning," Franks said. "Not much will change this week. You just try to stick to the same routines."