Broncos to lose Civoniceva
By Stuart Honeysett
June 16, 2007 AFTER a career spanning 10 years and three premierships, Petero Civoniceva will part company with Brisbane at the end of the season.
Several NRL clubs confirmed yesterday that Civoniceva was being shopped around on the basis he had rejected the Broncos' final offer and it was no longer on the table.
"You can take it as gospel he's gone," an unnamed club chief executive said.
There had been genuine concerns the Test prop would leave the Broncos given the two parties had been negotiating for several months.
Things changed for Brisbane when the club failed to hear from his management for several weeks in the lead-up to State of Origin I last month.
His management was then given permission to hold talks elsewhere and the Bulldogs, the Sharks and Canberra were offered his services.
The stumbling block in negotiations has been the amount and duration of the contract. Civoniceva was chasing a three-year deal worth $400,000 or more per season.
Given Civoniceva is 31 and in the twilight of his career, it is believed Brisbane could not come close to that amount under the salary cap.
Compounding the Broncos' problem are that they are close to signing Justin Hodges, have already snared Penrith duo Joel Clinton and Peter Wallace and retained several of their younger players.
Civoniceva, who was part of the Queensland team that wrapped up the State of Origin series in Sydney on Wednesday night, played against the Bulldogs at Telstra Stadium last night.
Brisbane chief executive Bruno Cullen declined to discuss Civoniceva's case in detail yesterday, other than to say it would be a sad day for the club if he moved on.
"If Petero goes then obviously we're very disappointed because he's given us great service over a long period of time," Cullen said.
"But like with the other fellows that are leaving, these are all salary-cap issues and this is what the salary cap does to a successful side.
"If we were able to spend the money on Petero to keep him we'd gladly do so but we can't.
"We obviously wish him all the best and hope he finishes on a high note with us this season and finds the contract he's looking for to finish his career off. He's been a wonderful servant."
Civoniceva made his debut for the Broncos against North Sydney in 1998.
He went on to play in his first premiership-winning team that season and tasted grand final success again last year (he missed the 2000 grand final).
He was such a dominant force on the way to last year's title that he received the Paul Morgan medal as the club's best player.
While the loyalty debate is likely to be sparked if Civoniceva leaves, the Broncos' hands are tied given they are negotiating with Hodges and close to signing a three- or four-year deal.
The club has already retained Test prop Sam Thaiday, Dave Taylor, Joel Moon, Darius Boyd, Steve Michaels and Denan Kemp.
Civoniceva isn't the only senior Bronco moving on next year. Utility Shaun Berrigan has confirmed he will accept a four-year offer to play with English Super League club Hull.
Prop Dane Carlaw is also expected to leave, most likely to the Gold Coast, veteran forward Brad Thorn is expected to retire, while Queensland wing Brent Tate has signed a rich three-year deal with the Warriors.
It remains to be seen if Civoniceva will remain in the NRL, given there appears to be few clubs prepared to gamble on his asking price.
That would limit his options to England, with Wigan a possibility as it looks like missing out on St George-Illawarra prop Jason Ryles.
Meanwhile, Bulldogs halfback Ben Roberts capped a mixed week when he signed an extension which will keep him at Belmore until the end of 2009.
The Dogs confirmed Roberts had agreed to a new two-year deal only hours before he played in premier league last night.
Roberts was dropped from first grade after he and former Test centre Willie Tonga broke a team curfew following last weekend's win over the Warriors.
Wests Tigers have re-signed two of their most promising young players.
Forward Bronson Harrison has inked a two-year deal which will keep him at the club until the end of 2009 and fullback Shannon McDonnell has signed a three-year contract which ties him to the Tigers until the end of 2010.
The Bulldogs have been linked with Sharks hooker Michael Sullivan, who is playing in England with Warrington.