Born: 12 March, 1978 – Auckland
Test record: 9 Tests (2001-03, 2006) – 1 try (4 points)
Tours: 2002 tour of Great Britain
Hooker/back-row enforcer Monty Betham played eight Tests during his 2001-03 heyday for the Warriors and added a final appearance for the Kiwis in a late-career stint with Wakefield Trinity.
The Bay Roskill Vikings junior and Junior Kiwis captain was a five-eighth for Auckland Warriors’ 1997 Super League Under-19s team that reached the grand final. His NRL debut came in Mark Graham’s first game as coach in the opening round of 1999, but injury cut his rookie campaign short after just three interchange appearances.
Betham, earmarked as a leader from a young age, became a Warriors regular in 2000 – his 19 top-grade outings including 11 back-row starts. The 22-year-old played in all four of Samoa’s World Cup matches at the end of the year.
The son of the renowned pro boxer of the same name, Betham garnered a reputation in the NRL as a player to avoid in the on-field pugilism department; those who occasionally didn’t finished on the wrong end of a battering.
Betham was a key member of New Zealand Warriors’ 2001 surge to a maiden finals appearance – missing just one game – and scored a try off the bench against France on Test debut for the Kiwis, before starting at lock in the mid-season loss to Australia in Wellington.
A surprise choice as club captain ahead of the 2002 season, Betham was struck down by long-term knee injury in Round 3 and missed the Warriors’ charge to the minor premiership and grand final. But he nevertheless played a key off-field role and returned to full fitness in time to play in all four Tests on the Kiwis’ tour of Britain.
Betham came off the bench against Wales and the first two Tests against Great Britain, before donning the No.13 jersey for the third encounter with Great Britain.
He was back for the Warriors as skipper in 2003 – starting the year at lock then moving to hooker after PJ Marsh succumbed to a serious neck injury – and led the side to a sixth-place finish and a preliminary final. The 25-year-old also came off the bench in the Kiwis’ heavy mid-season loss to Australia in Sydney and played hooker in the stunning 30-16 upset of the Kangaroos at North Harbour at the end of the year.
But with his take-no-prisoners style incurring multiple suspensions and the Warriors suffering a dramatic slide in 2004, Betham handed over the captaincy to new recruit Steve Price in 2005 and ultimately left Auckland at the end of that campaign with 101 NRL games to his credit.
Betham spent the 2006 season in England with the Wildcats, coming off the bench in New Zealand’s 46-14 midyear loss to Great Britain at St Helens in a Kiwis line-up made up predominant of Super League-based players.
Pursuing a pro boxing career, Betham crafted an 8-1 record between 2007 and 2015, winning the NZNBF Cruiserweight title in his final fight. He has since been a prominent rugby league media personality with Sky TV.