3 March 1982 |
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
As of 17 June 2011
Source: Rugby League Project
Paul Franze (born 3 March 1982 in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia) is an Australian former rugby league player. He played for the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks and the Penrith Panthers in the Australian National Rugby League, and for the Castleford Tigers in the European Super League, Gateshead Thunder in the Championship and Pia Donkeys in the Elite One Championship as well as a stint as a rugby union player for the London Irish in the Guinness Premiership. In both codes, Franze primarily played at centre.
Childhood and early career
Franze began playing rugby league in his home city of Newcastle for his local club, Raymond Terrace, while still at a young age. His talent was quickly spotted and he was signed by local NRL side the Newcastle Knights as a junior while still in his teens. His raw talent was also seen with his selection in junior Australian rugby league and rugby union sides. He went on to play in the lower grades but was never able to make his way into first grade until he was signed by the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks.
Franze began in the lower grades at the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks rugby league club for the beginning of the 2002 season, though he quickly impressed his coach Chris Anderson and worked his way into the first grade side at Cronulla making his début in round six against the Newcastle Knights at EnergyAustralia Stadium on 19 April. Franze maintained his first grade spot for the majority of the 2002 season, scoring eight tries including a double in the finals series against the St George Illawarra Dragons.
The 2003 season was potentially shaping up to be an impressive one for Franze after a solid début season in first grade at the Sharks. However, early on during the Sharks' new season campaign, he sustained a season-ending knee injury, requiring him to have a knee reconstruction, and a lengthy recovery process meant he could take no further part in the season.
After recovering from his serious knee injury during the majority of the 2003 season, Franze made his return to the Sharks' first grade side midway through the 2004 season. However, he was never able to regain his old form and spent the majority of his time in reserve grade before being released from the club at the end of the season.
Franze was signed by the Penrith Panthers at the beginning of the 2005 season and placed into the Panthers first grade team by coach John Lang, making his début in round one of the season in an eventual loss to his former club, the Sharks. Franze finished the season with eleven tries from twenty-one appearances.
Franze represented the Federazione Italiana Rugby League (FIRL) against the Greece Rugby League at Marconi Stadium - Sydney. This was Franze's first game for the Azzurri and scored 3 tries on debut.
Franze made his début for the London Irish rugby union club in the Guinness Premiership at the beginning of the 2006 season playing for the club at centre. He made the adjustment of switching codes quickly impressing fans and pundits alike with strong performances in several games including a superb try which many labelled the try of the season against Agen.
After making several appearances for his new club, Franze put in a request to his new club asking for his contract to be terminated so that he could return to rugby league. The request was granted by the London Irish rugby director Brian Smith.
After signing on to play rugby league again with the Castleford Tigers, Franze made his début for the club in their round nine clash against the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats on 14 April; He was named on the bench, eventually coming off to make his début late in the match. Franze went on to make another two appearances for the struggling Tigers before dramatically deciding to opt out of the remaining time on his contract, citing fatigue as this was the beginning of "his third straight season of rugby" without an off-season.
After terminating his contract with the Castleford team, Franze decided "to take a break from the game" for the time being.
Franze signed a two-year deal with the Newcastle Knights in July 2006.
Franze signed with the Pia Donkeys in the French Rugby League at the end of 2007. He has now signed with the Gateshead Thunder. Franze left Gateshead Thunder at the end of the 2009 Season following the club entering administration.
Career playing statistics
|Total||123||2002 - 2009|