One for the show, McGuire ready to make Origin leap
AS the most capped forward in Queensland Origin history, Petero Civoniceva knows a future representative star when he sees one.
So when he says it is only a matter of time before Josh McGuire dons the Maroon jumper, it is an appraisal worth noting.
Nicknamed “The Big Show”, the rising Broncos prop has been a revelation this season and underlined his potential by keeping Maroons and Test bookend Ben Hannant out of Brisbane's starting side for a brief period in the wake of this year's Origin series.
The retiring Civoniceva will leave
a gaping void in the Maroons' front row next season, but the veteran of
33 Origin matches says the Broncos and Queensland possess an exciting
forward leader in McGuire.
“He's been fantastic for us (the Broncos) this year,” says Civoniceva of his junior front-row colleague.
“He's been a real leader for this team despite his young age. He and Ben Hannant have been real standouts for us in terms of our forward pack and the future looks bright with himself and Ben leading the forwards with Sam as skipper.
“Josh definitely has the ability to play rep football, he only has to keep playing to his current standard and his time will come.
“There is already a good backbone in the Queensland forward pack and the three guys (Hannant, Thaiday and McGuire) will be a big part of that moving forward.”
McGuire took his first step towards rep status when he was named in Australia's train-on squad for the end-of-year Four Nations tournament last season.
And while the Maroons' plethora of forwards kept him on the periphery this year, the 22-year-old is determined to break through in the post-Civoniceva era in 2013.
“Origin is definitely the goal for me,” McGuire says.
“It's tough, the quality of the blokes in the Queensland squad makes it hard to break in. But if I can get a look in next year that would be a dream come true.
“But the Broncos are my first priority and I want to do well for them.”
McGuire's numbers scream representative material.
Against the Cowboys in round 15, the 22-year-old made a staggering 60 tackles in just 66 minutes.
He averages 33.3 tackles per game and has churned through 2212 metres this season from 265 hit-ups, an average of 100.5m per match.
The 106kg powerhouse respects the pedigree of starting bookends Civoniceva and Hannant, but admits he is ready to be the cornerstone of Brisbane's forward pack.
“My goal is to be the starting front-rower,” says McGuire.
“You ask any footy player if you're on the bench, you want to be starting. I'm happy to come off the bench when ‘Hook’ (Griffin) tells me to, but ideally I want to be starting every game.
“I have been playing consistent footy which I wanted to do and I want to keep building on that. It's hard when you have Petero and Benny Hannant in front of you so you have to keep putting pressure on them.
“I set myself a standard finishing well last year, I didn't want to take a step backwards this year and I've worked hard to keep improving.”
That McGuire is even dominating at NRL level is testament to his character after an horrific eye injury last year that left his career at the crossroads.
Accidentally poked in the eye by teammate Mitchell Dodds in a game against the Bulldogs, McGuire suffered a detached retina.
He struggled to make out shapes and colours and underwent a five-hour operation to correct the sight in his left eye.
The former Samoan international now wears a contact lens for games but admits his left eye is still not 100 per cent.
“My eye is no better than what it was last year,” he says.
“I've just gotten used to it now. I have a special contact lens for it which helps me see during the games, but apart from that I'm half-blind.
“I can see colours and shapes but nothing clear, it's just a big blur.
“I can see shadows, so I can see the ball coming or a defender shooting at me.
“As long as I see the shadows I'm alright.”