By CHRIS RATTUE

Frano Botica is ready to turn out in another NPC campaign for North Harbour, 16 years after making his debut for the fledging union.

Botica, who has played two seasons for Biarritz in France, reaches the tender age of 38 the week before North Harbour kick off their NPC season against Otago in Dunedin on August 10.

His last game for North Harbour was in the NPC semifinal loss to Auckland at Eden Park in 1999.

Harbour backs coach Allan Pollock said that a trial game in Palmerston North, where Botica turned out for an invitation side, convinced him the dual rugby and rugby league international was ready.

Harbour coach Wayne Shelford will confirm his first playing squad in early August, but Botica is set to be named alongside Willie Walker as their first five-eighths.

Last year, Walker shared the position with Marc Ellis, who has since retired.

"I was never concerned about Frano's fitness, but we wanted to see if he was still up with the speed of the game, and the match in Palmerston North convinced us," said Pollock.

"He said he was retiring when he left two years ago.

"But he told us not to forget about him and it went from there. He is keen to be a mentor and have a back-up role.

"Willie is the incumbent and Frano understands that, but once you're into the season it all comes down to form."