Petero still an Origin III factor: Price - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Petero still an Origin III factor: Price

By Laine Clark 08/07/2009 03:41:44 PM Comments (0)

The big, pearly white smile wasn't there to greet Queensland prop Steve Price when he arrived at Origin camp this week.

But the Maroons workhorse reckons missing bookend buddy Petero Civoniceva will still have an influence on next week's Origin III at Brisbane.

Time and again the cynics have dismissed the pair as too old and slow - and time and again Price and Civoniceva have left their doubters red-faced.

Along the way, Price - the oldest player in the NRL at 35 - and seasoned 33-year-old Civoniceva have forged a special bond.

Indeed the duo - affectionately dubbed "Ebony and Ivory" - are downright inseparable at Origin camp.

But for the first time in a while, Price didn't get his traditional welcome from the Penrith giant when Queensland entered camp for next Wednesday's Suncorp Stadium showdown.

Civoniceva is recovering after tearing the tendon off a big toe in the first half of Origin II in Sydney - then typically played on to help seal a record fourth straight series win.

"It's very different when you come into camp. You just expect him to be there with his big smile saying g'day," Price laughed.

But Price expects his good friend to still have a profound effect on the team, namely the young forwards blooded in Origin III for Civoniceva and Ben Hannant (knee).

Cowboys prop Matt Scott in particular is expected to draw inspiration from the big fella as he prepares to fill Civoniceva's front-row vacancy, marking his first Origin game since his 2006 debut.

In what has proved a master stroke by Maroons coach Mal Meninga, injured Origin players are invited into camp, ensuring big Petero can not only rub shoulders with Price, but also "generation next".

"He will be in camp at some stage which is important because he is an integral part of the squad," Price said.

"That is something Mal has done very well - he gets people involved that are important to the squad.

"I have been there a couple of times (injured) and it is not a nice feeling. You feel pretty helpless."

While Price said Civoniceva and Hannant would be missed in Origin III he believed incoming forwards Scott, David Shillington and Neville Costigan would fill the void - as long as they didn't expect to fill the injured players' shoes.

"The key to it is that we need Matt, David and Neville to be themselves, not try and be another Petero or Benny Hannant," he said.

"Matt will fill Petero's shoes in his own way.

"They have all earned their opportunity and we know they will all make the most of it."

Scott was the first to admit he was no Civoniceva.

"Petero is such a great player. I will just try and step up and do my best," Scott said.

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