Civoniceva cleared for NRL grand final - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Civoniceva cleared for NRL grand final

By Laine Clark 25/09/2006 07:19:37 PM Comments (0)

Even rival coach Craig Bellamy admitted Brisbane powerhouse prop Petero Civoniceva didn't deserve to be rubbed out of Sunday night's NRL grand final against Melbourne after his high tackle on Bulldog Sonny Bill Williams.

But that didn't stop the towering Broncos frontrower from having a "restless night" before the NRL match review panel released its findings on Monday.

Civoniceva still had some nervous moments after being hit with a grade one careless high tackle for a shot on Williams during last weekend's 37-20 preliminary final victory.

But the grading was not high enough to warrant suspension.

"It was a pretty restless night and it was a great relief to get the good news," said Civoniceva, who is lining up for his second grand final after tasting success in the 2000 premiership.

"Now I can focus totally on preparing for the grand final.

"It would have been tragic to miss the grand final after what's been a really tough season.

"To miss a game like that would have been heartbreaking."

The damaging Test prop found an unlikely ally in Melbourne coach Bellamy on Monday.

"Petero plays the game hard and tough and he's not a dirty player - he probably didn't deserve a week off," Bellamy said.

"It would have been nice if he got the week off but he didn't deserve it - it's probably come out fair and square."

Civoniceva's front row partner Shane Webcke will hang up his boots on Sunday night and said having the big Fijian there made the occasion more special.

"It's good to see the judicial process has worked the way it has," he said.

"It's wonderful to be able to share that special day with so many of my good mates, particularly Petty."

Webcke said Civoniceva had stamped himself as the game's premier big man despite Bulldogs' Roy Asotasi being named 2006 Prop of the Year.

"I think that would be very fair. In the last two seasons at least I think he has developed and matured into the footballer we see today," he said.

"He certainly is a real talent and he will carry the club forward for another couple of years yet."

Civoniceva's reprieve and Melbourne backrower Michael Crocker's withdrawal would not swing the advantage to Brisbane in the battle of the forwards on Sunday night, Webcke said.

"He's obviously a tremendous player and a big hole to fill but no one team is (relying heavily on) an individual player," he said.

"Someone will step into the breach and fill it magnificently - I have absolute confidence in that."

Indeed Webcke believed criticism of Melbourne's pack throughout the season was blatantly unfair.

"I've heard that bandied around a bit over the course of the season but look at where they are today," he said.

"How many games have they lost this year - four. You don't do that unless you have a great forward pack."

Meanwhile, Brisbane skipper Darren Lockyer said Melbourne "deserve" to be favourites despite its big match inexperience.

Brisbane has eight players who have played a total of 17 grand finals as compared to Melbourne who has just one with grand final experience - veteran winger Matt Geyer.

"The football they are playing, they are winning all the tight matches, they are winning their semis - I don't think they are going to be overawed by the occasion," he said.

"They have been the standout team all year so they deserve to be favourites."

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