Veteran Brisbane winger Michael Hancock made a stunning and unselfish
decision to hand his starting spot in yesterday's grand final team to his
biggest competitor, Michael Devere.
Devere was told on Friday he was starting and the young speedster, who will
challenge Hancock for his first grade job next season, came up with the first
try in Brisbane's 38-12 win.
Hancock, cleared to take his place after finger surgery last week, revealed
a fear of letting his team-mates down had convinced him to surrender his place
in the biggest game of the year.
``I thought it was best for the team, all I wanted was for those guys to
win," said Hancock whose hand was packed in a plastic bag filled with ice in
the dressing room after the game.
``I was part of the team, whether I was starting, and it still feels great.
It worked out well because Mick (Devere) scored in the first couple of minutes.
``I sat down and talked it over with Benny (coach Wayne Bennett) and he
thought it was the best way to go, too.
``I could have started. I've played all year there but it wasn't about me,
the team comes first. It worked out okay because I came on and did a few things.
``There's more than 13 of us, there's 17 and I felt for Ben Walker and Peter
Ryan who didn't get a game today."
Hancock, who has played in 19 of Brisbane's 20 finals and in all of the
club's four premiership wins since 1988, said he was keen to play again next
``I got back this year and I just want to stay there," he said.
Meantime, hulking Brisbane forward Petero Civoniceva dedicated his
grand-final victory over Canterbury to his homeland Fiji.
The strapping 192cm 22-year-old joked his popularity in the land of his
birth may now equal that of recent US PGA golf winner Vijay Singh and former
Canberra Raider Noa Nadruku, who carry superstar status in Fiji.
Civoniceva revealed he had revved up for the biggest game of his life by
watching Fiji win a Rugby World Cup qualifying game on television as his Bronco
team-mates warmed up in the dressing room before kick-off.
``Even though I've grown up here (Australia), I still identify with Fiji
culture," said Civoniceva whose father, Petero snr, was a great rugby union
player in his day.
``Hopefully this will mean something to them, because rugby league in Fiji
is getting bigger all the time."