Sam Thaiday (left), Petero Civoniceva and Ben Hannant during a Maroons State of Origin training session.
Sam Thaiday (left), Petero Civoniceva and Ben Hannant during a Maroons State of Origin training session. Robert Cianflone - Getty Images

'Civoniceva to go out a winner'

MAROONS interchange prop Ben Hannant is ready to do whatever it takes to send out retiring teammate and fellow front-rower Petero Civoniceva a winner.

The 36-year-old Civoniceva announced last week he would retire from rugby league at the end of this season.

"Petero's the best bloke in the league," Hannant said of Civoniceva, also his Broncos teammate.

"To be able to play alongside him in one last Origin series is an honour and a special time.

"It's exciting.

"I won't be taking it for granted, that's for sure."

Civoniceva, on the eve of his 31st appearance for Queensland, is not expecting an easy farewell Origin series.

"NSW has picked a fantastic team," he said. "It's one that's got plenty of mobility.

"It'll be a huge challenge for us but we've picked a handy forward pack as well so it's going to be a great battle."

Queensland coach Mal Meninga said every Maroons team he has been at the helm of has always lifted with the mere presence of Civoniceva.

"He has been around a long time, he has been a great warrior," he said. "We know he is going to be well prepared, we know he is going to give his all through the series being his last year."

Queensland has picked a big forward pack - Hannant will join monster front-rower David Shillington on the bench as well as big back-rower Matt Gillett and David 'Coaltrain' Taylor.

"With State of Origin, there's so much line speed and wrestling that goes on," Shillington said. "It's about getting forward as best you can through brutal defence and trying to give your backs some room to play."


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