'40 is the new 30': Elliott defends Petero

Penrith coach Matthew Elliott has challenged NSW selector Laurie Daley to single out exactly where Petero Civoniceva is showing his age following disparaging comments made about the veteran prop earlier this week.<br><br>Daley told a pre-Origin luncheon on Wednesday that Civoniceva “has had his time” and that he and fellow Queensland front-rower Steve Price could be exposed by a youthful NSW outfit – his comments made to look even more outlandish following the Maroons’ 28-18 win that night.<br><br>Elliott said today that he was stunned anyone would question the 33-year-old’s standing in the game and queried exactly what it was that Daley had spotted this season.<br><br>“If he is seeing something, I’d be interested to hear what he is seeing because I’m just not seeing any of it,” Elliott said.<br><br>“I don’t think the blokes that have to tackle him each week would agree with that statement either.<br><br>“I’m going to yell this loud and clear – Petero is a long, long way from being past it. <br><br>“I don’t see anything in Petero’s body or his attitude that will stop him from playing in the foreseeable future. <br><br>“While he is prepared to put him through what he puts him through I don’t buy into that at all.”<br><br>Elliott said the notion that players reached their use-by-date at a certain age was ‘ridiculous’ and pointed to the efforts of Price and Civoniceva in recent times as evidence that age should be taken out of the equation.<br><br>“One of the things that our sport has inherited from our culture is the perception that once you reach a certain age you lose certain capacities,” he said.<br><br>“We keep hearing that 40 is the new 30 and I think it’s time that was applied to our sport. <br><br>“I’ve spoken to Petero about that. <br><br>“While he still has that burning ambition to play I don’t see anything in his body, I don’t see anything in his attitude or anything in the way that he prepares that is going to stop him playing. <br><br>“If I did see something I would tell him and I have told some guys in the past. <br><br>“That’s my responsibility as a coach, to tell people when they should perhaps think about the next phase of their life. <br><br>“But I’m removing age from the discussion because I don’t think it’s relevant.”<br><br>Having led Queensland to yet another Origin win on Wednesday, Civoniceva will back up again tonight when the Panthers travel to Leichhardt Oval to face an inconsistent Wests Tigers outfit.<br><br>While Penrith, currently sitting in eighth spot on the NRL ladder, will start as firm favourites, Elliott sat his side down at a team meeting last night specifically to discuss the vagrancies of Leichhardt.<br><br>“We discussed that last night for sure,” Elliott said. “What I told them was that it was a fantastic opportunity.<br><br>“We haven’t had the chance to play at Leichhardt yet – the last time I was there was when I was with Canberra – and it’s just a fantastic ground.<br><br>“It’s one of those experiences that we should be excited about.”<br><br>The Tigers welcome back hooker Robbie Farah for tonight’s game after his NSW debut earlier in the week and they’ll be looking for him to help reverse a slump that has seen them lose four in a row.<br><br>But Elliott singled out prop Todd Payten as the danger man for his side.<br><br>“You can’t ignore Farah and Benji as individuals but I’ve got a heap of respect for Todd,” he said.<br><br>“I think he is a key individual in their team and quite often goes unnoticed.<br><br>“He is the conduit between the skill and the bump and grind that they’ve got.<br><br>“He’s a player that we don’t want to ignore. They’ve also got Daine Laurie coming off the bench who I think is outstanding.<br><br>“They’re all players we need to be aware of tonight.”<br><b><br>Late News:</b><br><br>•&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Jharal Yow Yeh has been called into the Brisbane squad to play just his fourth NRL game tonight following the withdrawal of centre Justin Hodges, who injured his knee in Wednesday’s State of Origin opener. <br>•&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;North Queensland pair Johnathan Thurston and Luke O’Donnell and South Sydney’s Michael Crocker and Craig Wing are all fit to play at Dairy Farmers Stadium tomorrow night.<br>•&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Cronulla lock Paul Gallen remains in doubt for Sunday’s clash with the Warriors with the same shoulder injury that saw him ruled out of Origin I.