Same old Petero inspires Panthers - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Same old Petero inspires Panthers

Laine Clark 05/06/2011 02:10:01 PM Comments (0)

The more things change, the more things stay the same at the Penrith Panthers.

Coach Matthew Elliott hailed positive initiatives at the NRL club under new general manager of football Phil Gould after their 23-10 NRL win over Gold Coast on Saturday night.

But Elliott said the catalyst to a remarkable form reversal was their same old inspiration - evergreen captain Petero Civoniceva.

The four-tries-to-two victory at Skilled Park marked Penrith's third win in four games to keep them in sight of the top eight.

It is an impressive transformation by a side that lost six of their first eight games.

Elliott at first credited sweeping changes under Gould for their turnaround.

"There is a more constructive environment in the club," he said.

But Elliott then mischievously turned to Civoniceva who was sitting next to him at the post-match press conference.

"Mate could you put your fingers in your ears for a tick - he's a humble bloke," Elliott laughed.

But he was deadly serious when pinning their form on the workaholic 35-year-old.

"When our skipper is having such an influence on the rest of the team, it is phenomenal for us," Elliott said.

"If the rest of the team don't follow suit they are not coming up with the standard being set (by Civoniceva)."

In an ominous warning to NSW ahead of June 15's Origin II in Sydney, Civoniceva racked up 162 metres and 19 hit-ups for Penrith - from just 46 minutes.

They are scary stats for a Blues outfit still smarting from the giant prop's dominant Origin I performance where he made 149m from 16 hit-ups.

Typically, Civoniceva came up with the critical play that broke open the match on Saturday night.

In the 54th minute Civoniceva burst through the Titans defence and linked with fullback Lachlan Coote, setting up winger Adrian Purtell to break a 10-all deadlock.

Halfback Luke Walsh - battling a hamstring complaint - potted a 72nd minute field goal before impressive pivot Travis Burns scored on fulltime.

"I am really proud of our experienced players like Petero for the resilience they showed," Elliott said.

"With his form over the last month, if someone is telling me (another) prop is playing better footy I am ready to argue."

A modest Civoniceva said the side was finally over the club's internal rumblings which resulted in Panthers boss Mick Leary's resignation and Elliott being told he wouldn't be coach next year.

"Obviously there is a fair bit going on but that is in our past," he said.

"For us we know there is potential in this team - it is just a matter of being consistent.

"There are a lot of things to work on but we have time to do it."

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