Petero Heads Home to Broncos for 2012

By Staff Writer    |    NRL, Rugby League   |   Jul 26, 2011 02:29 PM

The NRL’s most capped forward Petero Civoniceva on Tuesday announced his signing of a one-year contract with the Brisbane Broncos for the 2012 NRL season, which will see the veteran finish out his career with his inaugural club.

Fijian-born Civoniceva was granted a release from the Penrith Panthers, the club he currently captains, in order to return home to the Broncos and fill a leadership void that will be left by their retiring skipper Darren Lockyer.

Although disappointed to be losing such a pivotal player, Penrith’s general manager Phil Gould expressed his and the rest of the club’s support for Civoniceva and his future endeavours.

“The Panthers understand the reason behind Petero’s decision and feel it would be unwise to stand in his way,” Gould said.

“Petero has been tremendous for the Panthers.

“He has given great service to the club, the community; not to mention outstanding leadership to our team.

“His influence at Penrith will be evident long after he’s gone.”

Powerhouse prop Civoniceva, 35, made his NRL debut from Brisbane back in 1998, taking out the club’s Rookie of the Year award that year.

He served at the Broncos right up until 2007 playing 215 games with them including their 1998 and and 2006 NRL Premiership Grand Final wins, but injury saw him miss the 2000 Grand Final victory.

A decorated Test expert having featured in an incredible 30 State of Origin games for Queensland and made over appearances for Australia setting the record for any forward in history, Civoniceva transferred to Penrith in 2008 and will play there until the end of the current NRL Telstra Premiership.

Salary cap issues in Brisbane were part of the reason Civoniceva was forced to move to Penrith, but there will be no such problems for the Broncos this year with Lockyer leaving a huge surplus in player payment funds.

“Bringing Petero home is a great day for our club,” Broncos chief executive Paul White said.

“Without question, he returns to the Broncos as one of the leading forwards in the game.

“His strength of character, strong family values and leadership will enhance the development of our club and young playing roster.

As one of only eight Brisbane players to play 200 or more games with the club, Civoniceva is keen to return to the club where it all began for one final year in the professional footy spotlight.

There are also talks that Civoniceva will assume the Broncos captaincy for his year at the club replacing the role of the great Locky.

Current Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin was elated over the announcement of gaining Civoniceva and his wealth of experience for next year, which he said would help the young guns in the squad make the transition to footy without Lockyer in the lead.

“Getting him back is a real big bonus,” Griffin said.

“Losing Locky is a massive loss but to ring someone like Petero in eases that leadership void on and off the field.

“He’ll add a lot to our culture off the field with his professionalism and with who he is.”

Griffin also said he would be happy to work around Civoniceva adding to his imposing Test career for a final season next year if that’s what the evergreen star wished to do.

“Like Locky, I’d leave that up to him,” Griffin said.

“He’s worked hard to create a real presence in the representative arena and there won’t be any pressure from us to make his mind up too quickly.”

There are also talks of Civoniceva making the move back to the Sunshine State for his swansong year on the field to ensure he can take on a different role within the club when he retires from the game.

“You’d have to speak to Paul White and Andrew Gee (football operations manager) about that but it could be part of the attraction for him coming home,” Griffin said.

“I don’t have any details on that but with his profile and his history at the club it may be something that takes shape next year.”

Another Broncos player that returned to Brisbane just this year after a stint with rival club the Bulldogs, Ben Hannant expressed the excitement surrounding Civoniceva’s homecoming.

“It’s great news, it’s unreal for the club, the players and the fans that’s he is coming back,” Hannant said.

“It will be awesome playing with the big fella again.

“He is playing the best footy of his career right now and he’s a great leader.

“I can’t wait to be packing in alongside him again next year.

“With Lockyer going, to be able to have someone of Petero’s leadership and abilities back at the club is going to be great.”