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Civoniceva to lead PM's XIII against PNG

14/09/2009 06:48:31 PM Comments (0)

Penrith coach Matthew Elliott says Panthers skipper Petero Civoniceva can play representative football for as long as he wants after the veteran prop was given the NRL's club full blessing to take part in the upcoming Four Nations tournament.

Civoniceva was on Monday named to captain the Prime Minister's XIII in the annual clash with Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby on September 27, the selection clearing the way for his almost certain inclusion for the Kangaroos touring party next month.

The Kangaroos head to England and France on October 17 to take on the hosts, France and World Cup holders New Zealand in the inaugural Four Nations competition.

Civoniceva's availability is a massive bonus for Test coach Tim Sheens, given the man who has been his regular front row partner in the green and gold the last few seasons - Warriors prop Steve Price - has already been ruled out due to injury.

Civoniceva made a failed bid to return from a toe injury in time for Penrith's final round encounter against Newcastle two weeks ago, which the Panthers needed to win to make the top eight.

After being limited to just 12 games for the Panthers in 2009 as a result of the toe injury sustained while playing for Queensland in the second State of Origin clash, the 32-year-old Civoniceva said he would seek the club's approval before declaring his availability for the five week tour of the northern hemisphere.

"He certainly has our blessing to go," Elliott said.

"Every club has a responsibility to themselves and the game to make sure they're encouraging players to help promote the game at that level and Petero has a contribution in both those areas."

Elliott said the club had not put a timeframe on Civoniceva's representative career.

The 36-Test veteran was named to lead a strong PM's XIII, which includes fellow Test certainty Johnathan Thurston at halfback as well as a number of promising youngsters.

The 18-man squad was picked from players who have thus far been included in the Kangaroos train-on squad, which was on Monday boosted with the addition of Newcastle duo Kurt Gidley and Chris Houston as well as Manly quintet Brett Stewart, Glenn Stewart, Josh Perry, Anthony Watmough and bolter George Rose.

Rose's inclusion caps a stunning return from injury for the 26-year-old after a badly broken leg looked certain to end his rugby league career two years ago.

Brett Stewart's involvement in the Four Nations tournament will depend on the next stage of his sexual assault case, the former Test No.1 facing court again on September 28.

Canberra rookie Josh Dugan has been named at fullback for the PM's XIII after his breakthrough 2009 NRL season, while Newcastle veteran Adam MacDougall is on the interchange bench.

Dugan is one of five Raiders in the team, making them the best represented NRL club, while Civoniceva is one of four Panthers named.

The Prime Minister's XIII play the Kumuls on September 27.

Meanwhile, the ARL has announced the one-off Test played against England in the Four Nations series would not have Ashes status.

After consultation with England's RFL the two parties decided not play for the trophy which is usually contested over a three-Test series.

Prime Minister's XIII: Josh Dugan (Canberra), Nathan Merritt (South Sydney), Michael Jennings (Penrith), Joel Monaghan (Canberra), David Williams (Manly), Terry Campese (Canberra), Johnathan Thurston (North Queensland), Petero Civoniceva (Penrith-capt), Robbie Farah (Wests), Keith Galloway (Wests), Trent Waterhouse (Penrith), Luke O'Donnell (North Queensland), Paul Gallen (Cronulla). Interchange: Luke Lewis (Penrith), Dave Shillington (Canberra), Nate Myles (Roosters), Tom Learoyd-Lahrs (Canberra), Adam MacDougall (Newcastle)

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