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Shillington needs to step up for Roos

By Wayne Heming 12/11/2010 07:00:24 PM Comments (0)

Canberra giant Dave Shillington has to justify his Test promotion by providing the kind of intimidation Petero Civoniceva has given Australia for almost a decade against New Zealand in Saturday night's Four Nations final.

Civoniceva effectively sacrificed his 45th Test jumper by telling coach Tim Sheens he was off the pace compared to young fellow front-rowers Shillington and Matt Scott.

Shillington, who was outstanding for Queensland in this year's Origin series, said Civoniceva's boots were a big pair to fill.

"But that's what Tommy (Learoyd-Lahrs) and I are there for, to take it to the Kiwis whose pack is big and tough," he said before Saturday night's match-up.

Opinions are divided however as to whether coach Tim Sheens should have gambled on taking on the physical Kiwis without Australia's long time intimidator.

Former rugby league hardman John Sattler is one who believes Civoniceva should have been given one last crack at New Zealand in front of Queensland fans.

While the South Sydney legend, who infamously played through the 1970 grand final with a broken jaw, has no complaints with the selection of future Test props Shillington and Scott, he believes Civoniceva would have lifted at Suncorp Stadium.

"I think it's a real pity they've dropped him for this last Test because I think he's still going strong enough," Sattler told AAP on Friday.

"Tim Sheens is a great judge of the game and while I understand Petero offered to step down, I think he'd have been better in the middle than the two young blokes.

"I'm not knocking the two young guys, they've got so much potential, but I'd still have Petero defending the middle.

"If Sheens told him he was playing, he would have come up nine-foot tall.

"Knowing it was probably his last game at that level I reckon he'd have busted his arse too."

Sattler said opposition forwards new they were in for a game when they lined up against Civoniceva.

"Petero's not a dirty player but they know if they come through the ruck and he's around, they're going to get it," he said.

"And they know if they throw it around (punches), he could throw them right back."

While Australian hooker Cameron Smith is well aware of Civoniceva's worth having played 39 of his 42 Origins and Tests alongside him, he's also supremely confident Shillington and Scott can rise to the Kiwi challenge.

"I haven't played in too many representative matches where I haven't packed in beside Petero in the scrum," said Smith.

"A lot of people had been thinking we'd be in strife with Petero and Steve Price (retired) coming to the end of the careers.

"But I'm really confident about the two guys who are starting.

"Shillo is a big man, he's very aggressive. I know playing against him for the Raiders he can be very intimidating at times.

"He just needs to take over that senior role of Petero's and want to stamp his authority on every match he plays.

"Matty Scott played really well for us (Queensland) in the Origin this year and I think he was the Cowboys' player of the year.

"He's more like Shane Webcke, he'll just keep turning up for you all night."

Meanwhile Sheens again declined to confirm his four-man bench for the final which he said he would reveal just before kick-off.

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