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Moimoi is one of four 34-year-olds in the NRL this year, including Anthony Minichiello, Luke Bailey, and Lote Tuqiri. Credit: Renee McKay/NRL Photos.

Friends, Romans and front-rowers under the age of 20, lend me your iPhones. For the wise, old Fijian man from Red Hill has spoken, and he's spruiking the secret to surviving in the NRL into your 40s. 

Countering that though is the fact that if Petero Civoniceva had listened to Ruben Wiki and his endorsement of miraculous kava juice in the first place, then he probably wouldn't be enjoying retirement right now. 

"I know, I know. If I had listened to the king of kava, I probably would've been playing into my 40s," semi-jokes the retired prop. 

Apparently that mysterious drink which emanates from the Pacific Islands is the missing ingredient to guaranteed long life in the toughest competition in the world. That's according to the player currently bestowed with the mantle of the Oldest Player in the Game. 

"Probably the kava, man... and taro and corned beef," says Eels bookend Fuifui Moimoi. 

He might be right, or he might not. But following the retirement of figureheads Danny Buderus (35), Shaun Berrigan (35) and Matt Cooper (34 years and nine months), even the most-capped Australian prop now feels obligated to pick up the ears whenever Moimoi speaks. 

"Wait, how old is he?" asks Civoniceva. 


"Oh, he's still a young pup! I played at 37 last year so he's only a kid, mate."

At the very least though, those talented kids out Parramatta way need to drop the smart phones and start smart-thinking on what their next decade is going to be like. 

"I think they're going to use me for the young islander boys," says Moimoi, off contract at the end of the year. 

"They've got a few young Tongan kids coming up. Peni Terepo, Pauli Pauli, Junior Paulo. We've got heaps of young kids coming up. 

"[Even] Manu Ma'o, the new kid coming up too, from New Zealand, I think they'll use me as a leader for them, and to be involved with the young, talented islander kids... I'll be honoured to be a leader for them. It's going to be a good year for the club." 

But for now at least - and you could all thank Civoniceva for this - 30 is the new 20 among the NRL's premier big men. Which means we just might not have seen the best from the fella with more hairstyles than Katy Perry.

"There's that train of thought for front-rowers, they tend to mature a little bit later and certainly you've seen more emergence out of guys that hit the peak of their powers late in their 20s and early 30s," Civoniceva explains. 

"It's one of those things that you take a little while to mature into the role and understand the role better. Physically and mentally, you adjust to the rigours of playing in the front row at a later age."

Last year, only front-row partner and fearless skipper Tim Mannah made more metres (1966) than Moimoi at the club. The Tongan World Cup star also made the fourth-most tackles, appearing in 23 of a possible 24 games. 

"Full credit to him that he's been able to play so long in the style and the way he plays," Civoniceva continues. 

"There's no backwards step from Fui. I've played against him so many times, and I'll tell you what, he earns your respect because of the way he charges into the line and the way he throws his body around. 

"It says a lot about him to play the way the way he has and last as long as he has, to be the oldest player in the game now." 

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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