MAROONS warhorse Petero Civoniceva says he is playing for his Origin future and risks being axed if he fails to deliver in the series opener on Wednesday night.
Civoniceva will run on to Etihad Stadium as the oldest player in Origin history at 36 years and 32 days ù eclipsing Maroons great Allan Langer (35 years and 331 days) ù but concedes his status as the code's most experienced representative forward will not save him if he fails to hold his own against the Blues.
The Broncos bookend announced his retirement at season's end a fortnight ago and hopes to celebrate the fairytale Origin farewell his good mate Darren Lockyer enjoyed at Suncorp Stadium last season.
But a pragmatic Civoniceva yesterday admitted he had to perform or perish in Game One against a New South Wales team determined to rain on his Origin parade.
"I have an important role within this team, so that's my focus at the moment, but if you don't perform at this level you can be quickly replaced.
"I guess that is something I think all the time," said Civoniceva, who plays his 31st Origin match, the most by a forward.
"You live by the sword and I've put myself on the line again to go one more time at it. I guess it's in the back of my mind that you run the risk (of being dropped) but for me all I know is that I want to make sure I perform as strongly as possible."
Civoniceva is no stranger to walking the interstate tightrope.
In 2006, after Queensland crashed to defeat in coach Mal Meninga's first game in charge, Civoniceva and front-row cohort Steve Price were threatened with termination if they failed to lead the Maroons to victory in Game Two.