Kangaroos players have paid tribute to Petero Civoniceva as the former Australia international prepares for what will likely be his last rugby league game.
Even as they prepare to farewell him from rugby league, Kangaroos players remain in awe of Petero Civoniceva.
Bar the biggest upset in World Cup history, the 37-year-old prop will play the last competitive match of his career when he leads Fiji in Saturday’s semi-final against Australia at Wembley.
Civoniceva’s performances for his native nation at the tournament have shown he has lost little of the drive and ability that helped him become Australia’s most-capped forward with 45 appearances.
Kangaroos prop Matt Scott believes the tournament favourites have a big job on their hands on Saturday to stop Civoniceva, with whom he played eight State of Origin matches in the Queensland front row from 2010-2012.
But Scott says he and his teammates will be honoured to part of what could be the big prop’s farewell game.
“I’ve looked up to him my whole career,” Scott told AAP.
“I don’t know how he does it. There are a lot of guys here who are in awe of what he’s done in the game and the fact he’s still going as well as he is at this stage in his career.
“…. Hopefully I can catch up with him for a beer after the game.”
Civoniceva retired from the NRL with Brisbane at the end of 2012 and has since spent a season playing with Redcliffe in the Queensland Cup.
He deferred retirement to lead Fiji at the World Cup and his form is comparable to some of the tournament’s best props, running for 353 minutes in four matches.
Another former Maroons teammate, Corey Parker, said Civoniceva’s longevity was remarkable for a front rower.
“No disrespect to outside backs but he’s played in the front row week in, week out, putting his body on the line like a battering ram for 16-17 years,” Parker said.
“It’s a credit to him and he just keeps doing what he does best.”
Tim Sheens’ squad continued preparations for the match with a training session at the prestigious Harrow School in north-west London on Tuesday.
Injured fullback Billy Slater was present at the session, watching on as he iced the left knee he injured in a 62-0 win over the United States last week.
The Melbourne Storm star will not play against Fiji, but there is growing optimism he could be fit to return should Australia reach next week’s final in Manchester.