Petero Civoniceva
Petero Civoniceva Iain Curry

Former NRL great Civoniceva feels need to give back to game

FOR the past 12 years, Petero Civoniceva's name has been synonymous with State of Origin.

The gentle giant was one of the first players picked for Queensland every year, notching up 33 Origin games before retiring from the NRL at the end of last season.

While the 37-year-old will not be part of the action when the 2013 series kicks off at ANZ Stadium tomorrow night, he is still heavily involved in the game and has set his sights on more representative football.

Civoniceva is playing for Redcliffe in the Queensland Cup to keep his match fitness up for the World Cup in England and Wales at the end of the year.

The front-rower wants to give back to his native Fiji, and represent the Bati.

"It's what I've always wanted to do. I wanted that honour in 2000, but I broke my arm," he said.

"The next year I got picked to play for Queensland.

"It will be a nice swansong. It will be my final game of rugby league."

While Civoneciva has given an enormous amount to the game, he said he still felt he owed it so much more.

That's why he accepted the role as an NRL ambassador, promoting initiatives such as Eat Well, Play Well, Stay Well, and Tackle Bullying.

He is also a big supporter of the part women play in the game, singling out his mother for special praise.

"My mum was a single parent. She worked as a cleaner at the Redcliffe Hospital," he said.

"If I had a rep game as a junior player, she'd work extra shifts to cover the cost of driving me a long way.

"She made so many sacrifices over her life to help get me where I got to. She is such a great role model to me."

With rookie New South Wales coach Laurie Daley making six changes to the team that was beaten in last year's deciding game three by a single point, it was no surprise Civoniceva said he believed the Queensland selectors' policy of staying loyal could be the deciding factor this series.

"We've built cohesion and mateship over the years by sticking with the same players - that familiarity gives you an edge," he said.



  • Petero Civoniceva became the oldest State of Origin player in game three last year - 36 years and 74 days.
  • He made the third-most appearances for Queensland - Darren Lockyer has the most with 36, Alan Langer is second with 34.