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Petero inspiring NRL teammates to the end

Date

Wayne Heming

Retiring veteran Petero Civoniceva's vintage performance against Canterbury has his Brisbane teammates inspired to repay him during the club's tough run into next month's NRL finals.

Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin dropped a selection shock today by naming Josh Hoffman to return on the wing in place of young talent Lachlan Maranta, who will go back to Queensland Cup duty.

Corey Norman stood in for the banned Hoffman - punished for missing training last week - against the Bulldogs and has retained the No.1 jumper for the clash with fierce rivals Melbourne on Friday night.

While Civoniceva refuses to put pressure on teammates by using his looming retirement as motivation, he has taken it upon himself to make sure, whatever the outcome, he gives Brisbane his best right until the end.

His 164 metres from 19 carries in 44 minutes against the Bulldogs' pack was a statement from the big prop who was dropped to the bench the previous week against Canberra.

Teammate and front-row partner Ben Hannant spoke from the heart today saying Civoniceva's efforts against the brutish Bulldogs had lifted everyone at the club.

"It was Petero's best game. He led from the front, he was great, he got my players' vote," said Hannant, adding Brisbane's destiny was where it should be - in their own hands.

"It lifted me and a lot of us who ran off the back of the big fella."

Hooker Andrew McCullough agreed, suggesting Civoniceva had thrown out a challenge to his younger teammates against the Bulldogs.

"It's a real honour (playing with Civoniceva) and all the boys look up to him," said McCullough who comes up against the game's No.1 hooker Cameron Smith in Friday night's Suncorp Stadium clash.

"If the old boy (Civoniceva) is hitting the ball up, it shows you it doesn't matter how old you are.

"It sets the benchmark for our other forwards to get it over the (advantage) line.

"They've got no excuses especially if big Pet's making the metres that he's making."

Hannant didn't pull any punches when asked about Brisbane's tenuous place in the top eight with such a tough road home against Melbourne (home), Manly (away) and Penrith (home).

"The next few games will either make us or break us," he said.

"There's no reason why we can't make the finals from here and give this competition a damn good shake.

"If we don't, we've only got ourselves to blame."

AAP

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