Australia coach Tim Sheens labels Fiji prop Petero Civoniceva an all-time great
Australia coach Tim Sheens has paid tribute to Petero Civoniceva ahead of the World Cup semi-final against Fiji.
Last Updated: 22/11/13 6:50pm
Civoniceva won a record 45 caps for the Kangaroos and put retirement plans on hold when offered the chance to captain the country of his birth at this year's World Cup.
The 37-year-old prop has led his team to the semi-finals for the second successive tournament, but Saturday's clash at Wembley Stadium is expected to be his last as Australia start as overwhelming favourites.
"He's one of the all-time great props," Sheens said at the Kangaroos' captain's run. "To survive as long as he has with 40-plus Tests is not easy, I can tell you.
"Anyone who has played the game for 10 years or more in the NRL has had a great career, let alone to have played up front for all that time.
"I notice the strapping has come off his knees too. Either that's because Fiji can't afford it or he's got fresh legs these days.
"He certainly took it to us in the game at St Helens and I am sure he is pretty fired up to lead the charge here on Saturday. All credit to him for a fantastic career."
Sheens is counting on Matt Scott and James Tamou to come out on top in their battle Civoniceva and their North Queensland Cowboys team-mate Ashton Sims in what the Australia boss believes is a key area.
The Kangaroos crushed Fiji 34-2 in monsoon-like conditions at St Helens in their group stage clash, but Sheens is wary that they made vast improvements against England and Samoa.
"Up against Petero and Sims, it's imperative that we dominate that area of the game," Sheens added.
"The conditions were pretty ordinary at St Helens, probably the worst of the tournament. Dry conditions suit them and I think they suit us as well so it should be a good game if the rain stays away.
"In the England game it was 6-6 after 40 minutes and a couple of things got away from them. I think Fiji have improved since then.
"They've nothing to lose and everything to gain so we're expecting a really tough game."
Sheens has one injury concern ahead of the last-four encounter, with reports suggesting that Scott is a doubt due to a back problem.
"We've still got a small injury problem with one player so we'll sort that out today," Sheens said.