Francis keen to make most of Chiefs derby

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

In an action that many felt should have received a red card, and which resulted in a three-week suspension for Shaun Treeby, Francis was taken from the field at a crucial stage of the game against the Stormers.
While he still has a season to complete with the Blues, there was the chance the blow could have prevented him taking up his position as part of the England team's tour to Argentina next month.

Fortunately, Francis has been cleared of concussion and is free to play the Chiefs in Auckland on Friday.

Francis said he was happy with how he was feeling, he had been through all the protocols and was feeling good.

He said he thought he was conscious the whole time after he went to ground after Treeby's high tackle. It probably looked worse than what he said it felt but the physiotherapist and doctor had to go through their protocols in getting his neck in place and assisting him from the field.

But he said it was a shame the decisions couldn't be made during the 80 minutes the game was played because that was when his clearance meant the most rather than after the game when it couldn't have any effect.

"It was 19-10 at that point and we thought we had a good hold on the game. Our combinations were working and it changed the tide."

It had been a hostile environment at Newlands and he said with the match officials doing what they did it made it a tough task.

"I was really confident with how I felt and I'm confident with the process I've gone through with the doctor here and the protocols that have been put in place are really good and I've passed them and so I'm here and available to play Friday," he said.

Francis said the side felt they had come a long way since they played the Chiefs at the start of the season.

"We owe these boys one. They're coming up to our house, our last home game so we're fizzing to go. We believe we've prepared pretty well on a short turnaround coming back from Africa. The boys are pretty primed and ready to go," he said.

The Counties Manukau factor in the inside backs with Augustine Pulu at halfback and Sonny Bill Williams at second five-eighths was gelling and there wasn't a better game to be doing that than against the Chiefs.

Francis said he was excited with the opportunity to go to Argentina with the England squad but so far as he was concerned it was a case of first things first and it was a huge game against the Chiefs.

"These are the kind of games that personally you look to be involved with, especially in going into an international fold for the first time. Last weekend with the Stormers in Newlands was a pretty hostile environment but they are great games to be involved with and to learn from and Eden Park on Friday is going to be no different.

"I'm really looking forward to it and who knows what the future holds," he said.

"I owe a lot to the Blues and Eden Park has been a very special place to me, even being an Englishman. I really enjoy playing there and the support we get there. We tend to put in good performances at Eden Park and I believe Friday will be no different," he said.

Francis is due to fly out to join the England team in Buenos Aires, the day after the Blues return from their game against the Reds in Samoa and will then be back for the last game of the Super Rugby programme in July.