I was in camp with the Kangaroos last year when Petero Civoniceva stood himself down for the final of the Four Nations against New Zealand. The well respected warhorse believed his form did not warrant selection and unselfishly put the team before himself. His decision made it easier on Coach Tim Sheens. It was a tremendous act and a true indication of the quality of the man.
It was widely speculated in Rugby League circles that Civoniceva had played his last Test Match and the decision possibly signaled the end of his stellar representative career.
We should have known better.
Six months on, the 35-year-old continues to be a driving force for any team he is a part of and an inspirational figure both on and off the field. The old bull just refuses to buckle and is still a relentless metre-eater.
Queensland teammate Sam Thaiday is predicting that Civoniceva will be back again next year; "I think you'll pretty much have to kill him to stop him from playing footy. He'll just go forever," Thaiday told AAP.
All the focus this week was on Darren Lockyer’s swansong; his contribution to Queensland is undeniable. But just as important to the Maroons six series in a row has been the tireless efforts of their rock, Civoniceva. He has played 30 of the last 33 Origin games since debuting in 2001.
He was at it again on Wednesday night.
Civoniceva made a whopping 200 metres in the State of Origin decider at Suncorp Stadium. As he has done for a decade, he laid the platform for the genius of the Queensland backline to take over. Cam Smith, Darren Lockyer, Johnathan Thurston and Billy Slater are good at the best of times. But when they are given such unrelenting, irresistible go forward up the middle of the park, they are effectively unstoppable.
While we marveled at the efforts of Paul Gallen in Game 2 and some heralded the demise of the ‘big man’ in Rugby League, Civoniceva proved yet again that there is no substitute for a big hard running prop forward.
Already Australia’s most capped forward, he surely must go down as one of the greatest props the game has ever seen.
Control all the action - relive every try, big hit, or watch the whole match - our Origin analyser puts you in the director's chair.
Congratulations to everybody who got involved in the Red Cross Donate for your State Challenge. Over 164,000 lives have been saved as a result of blood donors during the initiative!
For the record, Queensland took a narrow victory 27,503 to 27,297 – but the real winners are all the people who needed the assistance. The rivalry between NSW and Queensland has never been better. Well done!
DID YOU KNOW?
- The Harvey Norman State of Origin Series decider was the most watched Origin game ever, attracting a national average audience of 3.765million.
- The 2011 Series had a cumulative national audience of 10.693million across the three games!
THIS WEEK ON NRL.com
Official View: Bill Harrigan looks at State of Origin from the referees perspective, taking you through the matchday experience.
NRL Mailbox: We explain the ‘missile’ tackle rule and how the NRL has been monitoring it for some time.
Stats Insider: Queensland’s Origin dominance – we look at how they have dominated the stats over the last six years.
Casualty Ward: When is your favourite player due back from injury.
In Touch; Leila McKinnon writes about the rivalry between family's and friends when the Origin series rolls around.
Inside Word: NSW assistant coach Trent Barrett looks at the State of Origin series and why the Blues are on the right track.
Next Gen: Matt Russell writes about the return of Harry Seijka to the Toyota Cup ranks and wonders how the young star is still unsigned for next year.
On the Road: Steve Mascord recaps all the Round 17 action.
Coach’s Box: Graham Murray says NSW have revived the State of Origin Series.
MATCH CENTRE – ROUND 18
Get all the team lists, head-to-head stats and our match previews in the match centre. Plus live stats and scores, match highlights and much much more!
Updated Team List - all the latest team news
FROM THE CLUBS
There is heaps of great content being
produced by your favourite club each and every week. Both in print and video, the NRL club network
is keeping you up to date with your favourite players. Here is a snapshot of what is making news at
some of the clubs. Make sure you check out your club's website by clicking on their logo in the toolbar above.
Titans: Prince refreshed and ready for
Cowboys: Thurston expected to miss five to
Storm: Melbourne travel to foreign territory.
Wests Tigers: Farah says Finals campaign has
to start now.
Broncos: Brisbane players visit youth service.
THIS WEEK'S VIDEOS ON NRL.com
NRL News - with Joel Caine
Retaining referees is hard: We catch up with all the action at a referee course and ask both Referees coaches Stuart Raper and Bill Harrigan what is the toughest thing about being a referee.
Tigers won’t risk Marshall: Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens plays down speculation that Benji Marshall will play this week.
Coming up this weekend on NRL.com
Saturday / Sunday 3:00pm – 4:30pm: NRL Deluxe on League TV with Freddy Fittler and John Gibbs
Full Match replays or just watch the best bits with Game Analyser. (All matches available 24 hours after final siren)