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Civoniceva will skipper Panthers in 2008

Monday, February 04, 2008

FIJI-born Petero Civoniceva has been named the Penrith Panthers captain for 2008 in his first season with the club.

Penrith took the wooden spoon in the NRL last season, and Civoniceva who has won premierships with the Broncos and represented Queensland and Australia was deemed the perfect leader for this season.

Civoniceva said getting the captaincy was a great privilege and he was looking forward to the year to come.

"I got a brief taste of captaincy last year at the Broncos, when Darren Lockyer got injured," Civoniceva said.

"That step up in responsibility and leadership, I really enjoyed that, and I felt it took my game to another level. Hopefully that can be the case this year."

The hard-hitting prop also made a prediction - the Panthers would climb off the bottom of the ladder this season.

"Just the way the guys have applied themselves in the pre-season has been fantastic. We're just looking forward to playing to our potential. Looking at our playing ranks we've got some fantastic experience mixed with some exciting new stars in the game.

"If we can get that right and play to our potential I'm sure we can have a successful year."

He is being eyed by the Fiji National Rugby League for the World Cup if Australian selectors don't need him.

Meanwhile, the FNRL board will discuss a possible ban on elite players featuring in the union code.

The board will look at implementing new rules to stop the cross-code trend for this season.

The elite players are part of the training squad preparing for the World Cup, which kicks-off in Australia this October.

FNRL chairman Peni Musunamasi said it was brought to the board's attention that some elite players were taking part in union sevens tournaments.

"As a result, the players did not attend a fitness test in Suva because they were injured during the tournaments," Musunamasi said.

"We have called a meeting with team managers to be held at the FASANOC office next Saturday to discuss the matter."

The FNRL has 43 local elite players who are on a strict training program.

The players are randomly tested to see that they follow the plans laid down by fitness experts.

While there is no specific rule stopping players from migrating between codes, Musunamasi said the FNRL was forking a lot of the expenses in trying to keep players in shape.

He said the meeting will discuss whether there needed to be rules put in place for elite players.

The FNRL will name a 30-strong elite squad to compete against overseas-based players for the 19 available places.

National Rugby League players Wes Naiqama, Aston Sims, John Sutton, Akuila Wati and Daryl Millard are automatic inclusions.

The final 24 players will be named on October 8.

In the 2008 RLWC Fiji is grouped with France and Scotland in Pool B. The Fiji Bati faces France on November 1 at the WIN Stadium in Wollongong. Meets Scotland at the Bluetongue Stadium in Central Coast on November 5.

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