Owen Franks poised for return for Crusaders against Rebels

All Blacks prop Owen Franks is a step closer to ending his two month hiatus from Super Rugby, with a return for the Crusaders on Saturday looking increasingly likely.

The veteran prop's been struggling with a muscle tear in his right shoulder but has survived what appeared to be a busy training session in Christchurch on Tuesday.

Franks has to get through the full week to be considered for Saturday night's final round robin game against the Rebels. 

"It was great for him to get a good session in today," said assistant coach Ronan O'Gara. "He's tracking along nicely.

"He's been out for a substantial amount of time, so you have to be careful. He's such a prized asset that you've got to make sure you get his return to play right."

Meanwhile, Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock took no part in Tuesday's session, their first hit-out since the loss to the Chiefs in Suva on Saturday.

O'Gara stressed his absence wasn't due to any injury concerns but more of a chance to freshen up.

"There's nothing going on. Management just felt that it was better for him to miss out today's training – same with Sevu Reece.

"A lot of minutes and a hard game at the weekend, so we're very conscious of how we manage players…. at different periods different players step out. Thankfully there's no big story."