Wigan Warriors: Frano Botica recalls the success he enjoyed during a 'special' era for the club

Frano Botica says it always felt special to beat Australian opponents during his time with Wigan.
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The retired New Zealand international was involved in two World Club Challenge wins, as well as enjoying Challenge Cup and Championship success.

Botica states he’s got fond memories of winning silverware with the club and admits he’d love a reunion with his former teammates.

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He said: “When you are successful and are beating the teams in England most of the time, you then want to challenge yourself against the NRL’s top teams.

Frano Botica was a key part of Wigan's successful team in the 90s (Credit: Bob  Martin/Allsport)Frano Botica was a key part of Wigan's successful team in the 90s (Credit: Bob  Martin/Allsport)
Frano Botica was a key part of Wigan's successful team in the 90s (Credit: Bob Martin/Allsport)

“We took any opportunity we had to play and beat the Aussies. Kiwis love to beat them, so I loved that.

“We beat Penrith at Anfield, and Broncos at the Suncorp Stadium. You could tell you were going to be part of something special.

“I came in after they had already won a few things, so I wasn’t there at the start, but it certainly continued for the five years I was at the club, winning a number of trophies and at Wembley on the bounce.

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“Wembley was our second home. We loved being down there and being part of that. The competition now is much more even, so it was good to see that Wigan won the Challenge Cup again.

“I’ve got a few photos up around the place at home which I see all of the time. I’m always trying to catch up with a few of the old players. It’s always good to do that when you’ve been part of something together.

“The last time I was in Wigan was about four years ago, I had dinner with Joe Lydon and one of our old mates, but it was off-season so no one else was around.

“It would’ve been nice to go and see the ground, but I was only passing through on my way to Scotland to see one of my boys.

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“I’d love to have a reunion, but it has been tough to travel around the place.”

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Botica says the passion of the Wigan supporters is one of the things he loves most about the club.

“It is mainly the fans, and how fanatic they are about the team,” he added.

“They would go to Wembley as an annual holiday, to watch us.

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“I know how much it meant to them, and they would’ve been heartbroken when Wigan finally did lose a final then they would’ve been heartbroken.

“I sell real estate now, and a lady at the side of the apartment I was selling told me she was from Wigan and used to come and watch us.

“That was just at a building in Auckland. She had been here for like 20 years or something. They are everywhere, the old Wiganers.”

Botica says he is disappointed with the way his time with Wigan came to an end, with another English club being his final destination prior to his rugby league retirement.

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“I knew I had to leave but was trying to sign a contract,” he stated.

“I then broke my leg so they decided not to sign me.

“I always planned on going back but it didn't happen, so I ended up going to Castleford because they were the only ones that would sign me.”