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Lockyer says Civoniceva is priceless

Wayne Heming 27/07/2011 04:24:01 PM Comments (0)

Retiring skipper Darren Lockyer says Brisbane have hit the jackpot with club legend Petero Civoniceva returning to mentor the Broncos' exciting young players in 2012.

Brisbane have developed several future top line players including fullback Josh Hoffman, winger Jharal Yow Yeh, emerging centre Jack Reed and forwards Matt Gillett and Alex Glenn.

Whether Civoniceva inherits Lockyer's captaincy during his one-year homecoming is secondary to what he can offer Brisbane's young crop of forwards, who'll learn from one of rugby league's finest and most respected front-rowers.

Having a player like Civoniceva during the transitional period, when they adjust to life without their champion captain and playmaker, is also a massive bonus for rookie coach Anthony Griffin and something Lockyer believes will be priceless.

"He'll be a wonderful asset to all those young forwards still learning the trade who'll now get the chance to learn from one of the greats," said Lockyer.

"It was a pretty sad day for everyone when Petero left (in 2008) and for him to be able to come back and finish his career with Brisbane I think will mean a lot to him.

"He's a wonderful player and a great bloke to be around. The young players at the club could not have a better person to mentor them."

Lockyer has shrugged off fears a hamstring twinge could sideline him from Friday night's clash with Cronulla as he draws closer to another personal record of playing more games than anyone in history.

The players were on a high after being told of Civoniceva's return, especially Queensland Origin teammate Ben Hannant who'll get to play at least one season of NRL with him in 2012 after finishing the year with Penrith.

Hannant said Civoniceva was "up with Darren Lockyer" in the way he prepared and led players on the field and how he conducted himself off it.

"I couldn't have been happier when I heard the news, it's unreal," said Hannant.

"Brisbane fans were veryupset when he left the club.

"When I finished training on Tuesday I thought: `geez it's going to be good to have the big fella back next year'."

Hannant had no doubt Civoniceva's leadership will lessen the impact of Lockyer's departure and make it a little easier for everyone to move forward.

"We're just happy he's coming back and he's going to have a season with us," said an excited Griffin.

"Even though he hasn't been here, every time we play Penrith they always talk about playing against Petero.

"He was in our shed after we played them in round two down there and you can just see the aura he has and the presence he has.

"To have him back in Broncos colours is going to be a boost for the guys like (Josh) McGuire and (Mitchell) Dodds (Scott) Anderson, (Dunamis) Lui and all those young guys.

"Having Petero and Ben Hannant leading them next season will be great."

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