Wigan Warriors: Frano Botica discusses the pressure he felt when he arrived at Central Park and what he did to earn his place in the team

Frano Botica says signing for Wigan was an “eye-opener” due to the amount of talented players in the squad.

By Amos Wynn
Monday, 1st August 2022, 12:00 pm

The New Zealand international arrived at Central Park in 1990, and became the fastest player to reach 1,000 points in British rugby league at the time.

Botica states he has fond memories of his spell with Wigan and did whatever he could to ensure he was picked.

He said: “I suppose when you are playing in a winning team it makes things much more enjoyable.

Frano Botica says he did intensive kicking practice to earn his place in the Wigan team (Credit: Allsport UK)

"The fans were amazing and it was the first time I’d played with a crowd like that. We had some great players as well.

“I had nervous excitement when I first joined, coming into a new environment, not having played league before, and coming into a team with 12 internationals.

“It was an eye-opener and it did put some pressure on me to try and figure out how I was going to make that team.

“It was a huge decision to shift to a new country with the family, which I didn’t take lightly, but I knew once I got there that I needed to do the best I could and maybe change a few things to try and be a part of it.

“The move was about what was best for me and my future. I spoke to one of my rugby coaches in New Zealand and my dad, and made the decision from there.

“Nothing is guaranteed, if you weren’t playing well then you weren’t getting picked, so I had to make sure I was doing whatever I needed to.

“I knew there were some very talented players there, so at first I just wanted to be in the squad so I could work my way in. I wasn’t expecting to get in straight away, I thought I’d work and progress off the bench onto the field.

“Once I got a starting role I wanted to make sure I did everything I could to stay there, including training and practicing hard.”

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Botica says one of his main focuses upon his arrival at Wigan was becoming the main kicker at the club.

“I was an okay goalkicker before I got there, but nothing brilliant,” he added.

“They had 12 internationals in the team but didn’t have a kicker, so I figured I needed to be one if I was going to make the team. I decided to do some intensive practice for two months prior to the season starting.

“By the third game I got the kicking duties handed over to me. Once I started that was it, they kept going over.

“I practiced six days a week for six months, just doing the same position every time.

“There were 15 spots, and I would kick two or three from each one. If I got two over then I would move on.

“If I got everything done, I could stop and go home. I didn’t like doing it but knew I had to. You don’t have to enjoy all the training you do, but it’s the end result that you’re after, and that’s to win.

“The number one thing was to make that team. I thought being the best goalkicker would help to secure a position, as well as being one of the fittest.”