ROLE MODEL: National Rugby League ambassador Petero Civoniceva during his visit to One Mile State School in Gympie.
ROLE MODEL: National Rugby League ambassador Petero Civoniceva during his visit to One Mile State School in Gympie. Rowan Schindler

Rugby league great visits Gympie school

NATIONAL Rugby League great and former Brisbane Broncos player Petero Civoniceva visited One Mile State School on Friday.

Civoniceva as well as NRL regional development officer Scott Zahra and his trainees, visited as part of an NRL skills program and spoke on parade to about 500 students, parents and staff.


One Mile State School health and physical education teacher Andrew Martin said the students gained real benefit from the visit.

"Petero is one of those quite unique players who is respected by both team mates and opponents for the uncompromisingly tough but fair way that he played the game,” he said.

Civoniceva congratulated the successful One Mile Athletics Team who were up at the top of the points ladder at the Gympie District Primary Schools Athletics Carnival.

He presented each student with a personally autographed sticker.

Martin said Civoniceva was generous with his time and stayed on to assist with lessons, he interacted with students at break time, signed autographs and spoke about his experiences in rugby league.

"He spoke to the students about nutrition, eating healthy breakfasts and lots of fruit and vegetables,” Martin said.

"Petero reminded them to look after each other, supporting people who may otherwise be left out.

"Petero also spoke about how as a rugby league player reading was very important and how much he loves reading to his children.”

Civoniceva spoke candidly to The Gympie Times about rugby league today, his career, and the transition into his new role as ambassador.

He said he loves his new role.

"It's great to do this work and be out in the community,” Civoniceva said.

"One Mile has been great, it's a great school and the kids are passionate about sport.”

"Since retiring in 2013 I work for the NRL as a community engagement ambassador, so basically it's an ambassadorial role that compliments our game development officers in all the different regions of Australia.”

Civoniceva addressed concerns with local player numbers declining around the 16 and 17-year-old age group.

"There's always challenges,” he said.

"In terms of rugby league, it's always been strongly followed but there's other elements which come into play.

"For a town like Gympie, there's always been a strong affiliation with rugby league.

"Again, it's all around that age of 16, where young players are looking towards whether its work opportunities or other focuses that come into life at that age.

"It's great we have guys like Darren Burns (Gympie Devils coach) here in Gympie, they do a tremendous job trying to grow the game.

"Towns and places like Gympie which have been very strong with rugby league need that attention so they can continue to grow and prosper.”

Civoniceva answered the question as to what he thinks about "that” nickname fans called him during his career.

"It actually started in high school,” he said.

"I had a group of mates that thought Civoniceva sounded like petrol seventy-cents-a-litre, that was one, then there was others, fridge-and-a-freezer and second receiver, there was a whole heap.

"I guess that's the great thing about sport you know, we tend to give our sportsmen and women different nicknames or monikers and it was quite funny, but that one has travelled with me ever since high schooling days back in Redcliffe.

"I know the guys back then, and they're still my mates to this day, and we should have trademarked it and maybe have made a coin, or a dollar or two out of it.

"They still claim that they were the ones that came up with it.”

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