Petero backs Jennings for NSW call up - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Petero backs Jennings for NSW call up

By Liam FitzGibbon 17/08/2008 02:50:57 PM Comments (0)

Penrith captain Petero Civoniceva has endorsed Michael Jennings for a NSW call-up next year despite admitting it would be daunting to face the "freak" centre in State of Origin.

Jennings continued his outstanding form in the Panthers' 52-16 win over the Bulldogs, scoring a fine solo try and setting up three others for teammate Luke Rooney.

The electric 21-year-old is already on the radar of representative selectors after earning selection in the preliminary 46-man Kangaroos squad for the World Cup.

But the departure of NSW centre Mark Gasnier and a shortage of top-line centres south of the border means Jennings will be one of the leading contenders for an Origin spot in 2009.

"He definitely wouldn't be out of place (in Origin), definitely not," Queensland veteran Civoniceva said.

"I think being named in this World Cup squad is just a stepping stone for him now.

"He can take a lot of confidence out of that knowing that the selectors are fully aware of his abilities so he's just got to take it to the next step and keep growing as a footballer and I'm sure he's got a long rep future in front of him."

While happy to sing his young Panthers teammate's praises, Civoniceva - a veteran of 23 games for the Maroons - was less excited about the prospect of coming up against Jennings in the game's toughest arena.

"I'd have to have words to him before the game maybe just ask him to be kind to me," Civoniceva said.

"He'd certainly be very damaging and it would be pretty painful to see him in a sky blue jersey.

"He's just a freak and I love watching him play."

Jennings displayed his trademark acceleration and footwork to step his way to the line from 20 metres out and score his 12th try of the season on Saturday night.

The Panthers 98-point turnaround from last Sunday's 74-12 thrashing by Canberra equalled the fourth biggest turnaround in premiership history.

Civoniceva said the way the Panthers bounced back would help them going into Monday week's daunting clash with reigning premiers Melbourne.

"Obviously it was a tough week, we had to address a few issues at the start of the week but full credit to the boys for the way they prepared for the game," he said.

"We can certainly take some confidence out of that for this week."

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