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Frano Botica

Frano Botica is a wonderful after dinner speaker with anecdotes from his rugby career.


Few people in professional sport have had a career as long and successful as Frano Botica. Entering the top level of professional sport at age 21, he has earned virtually every award and accolade availableover his 17 year career.

Frano is also probably the only athlete in New Zealand who has worn four different black jerseys:
the New Zealand Sevens.
the New Zealand Maori.
the All-Blacks from 1986 through 1989.
In 1990, Frano switched to Rugby League, and wore that black jersey for the Kiwis for another 3 years.
He played for top British team Wigan for 5 years as they stayed top of the table. For his final season in 2001, he returned to play rugby for North Harbour, where his accurate boot helped lead Harbour to a semi-final spot in the NPC.

His leadership skills have been recognised with the North Harbour captaincy, and are now being recognised again in the mentoring role he plays for many young athletes.

Frano Botica was a former Northcote and New Zealand All Black, before moving to Rugby League with Wigan in 1990. He made his debut as a winger in the CIS Sponsored Charity Shield at Swansea City F.C. Botica was a points scoring machine for Wigan and became the fastest British based player to reach 1000 points in his 93rd game, two and a half years after joining the club. In the 1992-1993 season he broke two club records with 423 points which included 184 goals. He also created a Premiership record with ten goals in a final in 1992, and then equalled his own record three years later.

He returned to New Zealand in 1995 to play for auckland Warriors but broke his leg cutting short his career down under.

He returned to England to play for the Castleford Tigers in the first year of summer rugby and whilst playing at Castleford scored his 2000th career point. After one season with Castleford he returned to Rugby Union playing with Orrell and then Llanelli before calling it a day.

Few New Zealand rugby players have had a career that matched Frano Botica's in terms of longevity and diversity. Botica's involvement at first class level stretched from 1984 through to 2001 when, in his late 30s, he reappeared in the national provincial championship with North Harbour.

Botica by then had won honours galore in both rugby and rugby league. He had played for two international rugby countries and also been in a Kiwi side that had enjoyed a rare win over the Kangaroos.

Botica entered the NPC in the first season of North Harbour's formation in 1985. But he had made his first class debut in 1984 when, still playing under the banner of the Auckland union, he was picked as a 20-year-old for the New Zealand Colts' internal tour.

Seventeen years later, while still at the top level, Botica made only a slight concession to his years. Most of his Harbour NPC appearances in 2001 were generally early in the second spell from the reserves bench.

Botica spent many years away from New Zealand, particularly after switching to rugby league in 1990. Yet he still amassed 88 first class games for Harbour. And during 2001 he was still appearing as a player when his great rival and contemporary, Grant Fox, was in his third season on the Auckland NPC coaching staff. It was bad luck in timing, both for himself and national rugby, that Botica was in his prime at the same time as Fox, but he still achieved a heap of honours and milestones.

One of the fabled "Baby Blacks" in 1986, Botica continued in the All Blacks through the 1987, 1988 and 1989 seasons even though the presence of Fox restricted him to just seven test appearances, six of which were in his first season when he was acclaimed the New Zealand Player of the Year.

Unfortunately, throughout Botica's All Black career the substitution and replacement rules were not as relaxed as they were to become, particularly when the game became professional. Otherwise, Botica may have been used more from the bench as an ideal impact player in 1987-89 when Fox was the first choice. And even though no one could argue with the preference for Fox because of his phenomenal kicking there was real regret that Botica did not get even a second of playing time in the 1987 World Cup.

There was an irony, too, in the preference for Fox because of his superior boot. Later, when he had moved to league, Botica, as did two other converts, Matthew Ridge and Daryl Halligan, quickly became a highly successful kicker in the 13-aside code.

Botica also appeared for New Zealand Maori (between 1985 and 1989), New Zealand Emerging Players (1985), North Island in the 1986 inter-island match, the national sevens side in eight international tournaments between 1985 and 1988 and for the Anzac XV that played the British Lions in Australia in 1989. He even appeared in the Super 12: once for the Chiefs in 1998.

And after joining the Wigan club in British league in 1990, where he was a prolific points scorer and the fastest man to reach 1000 points, Botica played in seven internationals for the Kiwis in 1991-93, including an upset win over the Kangaroos in Melbourne. He also had a season with the Warriors in 1995. Despite eventually becoming a league standoff, Botica spent much of his time in the 13-aside code at either wing or fullback.

When rugby became professional Botica returned to the 15-aside code to play for Llanelli in Wales and then in France. And in the late 1990s he even played for Croatia in a World Cup qualifying match.

Career Data

Frano Michael Botica

Saturday, 3 August 1963 in Mangakino

1.75m, 75kg

First five-eighth

Westlake Boys' High

(First made All Blacks from)
North Shore

North Harbour

Saturday, 28 June 1986 v France at Christchurch aged 22 years, 329 days

Saturday, 28 June 1986 v France at Christchurch aged 22 years, 329 days

Saturday, 15 July 1989 v Argentina at Dunedin aged 25 years, 346 days




123pts (13t, 19c, 9p, 2dg, 0m)


Wigan Records (current)

Most Goals in a Season:
186 by Frano Botica, 1994-95

Most Points in a Season:
423 by Frano Botica 1992-93


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