Castleford agree to Botica joining Orrell

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Frano Botica, currently under contract with Castleford Rugby League club, has finally signed for Orrell. The 32-year-old, now fully recovered from a broken leg, has been given permission by Castleford to play union during the league close-season next winter.

Orrell completed the two-year deal, believed to be worth more than pounds 40,000, after Moseley dropped out of the race. "I'm glad it's all sorted out. I'm very keen to play union, but at the moment league is my priority," Botica said.

Botica, who won the first of seven All Blacks caps in 1986, switched codes to join Wigan in 1990. He chalked up the fastest 1,000-points haul in league history in the 1992-93 season. He also holds the Wigan records for points (423) in a season and goals (186) in a season.

England's leading clubs launched another attack in their increasingly bitter battle with the Rugby Football Union yesterday. They re- affirmed their stance that relegation from the First Division should be suspended for this season.

Cliff Brittle, the Rugby Football Union executive committee chairman, will today attempt to explain publicly the issues involved in negotiations between the two factions.

Donald Kerr, the chairman of English Professional Rugby Clubs, said: "We believe it is the only fair way and hope the RFU will see the similarity with their own example.

"I emphasise this would be for one season only and would be the same arrangement that has already been agreed by the RFU for Division Two this season."