Injuries may be taking their toll but warhorse North Queensland prop Matt Scott is being backed to play until at least 2020 by someone who knows what’s it takes – Petero Civoniceva.
Scott has been placed in cotton wool by the Cowboys ahead of Friday night’s NRL preliminary final against Cronulla at Allianz Stadium.
The North Queensland prop is nursing a list of ailments including a bulging disc in his back and was in obvious pain during last week’s extra-time semi-final win over Brisbane.
Still, the 31-year-old this week backed himself to not only step up in the Cowboys’ title defence but also play on until at least the end of 2020.
Long-serving Test prop Civoniceva believed Scott – off contract in 2017 – had at least four seasons left despite the Cowboys front rower’s worrying ailments.
Civoniceva – who played until the age of 36 – said experience and age could also work in Scott’s favour.
“For sure he can keep going. Obviously it is up to how his body responds,” Civoniceva told AAP.
“The week to week grind can take its toll but knowing Matt, he is the ultimate professional.
“And that comes easier when you get older.
“He has learned that the longer you play the better you understand your body and know what works and what doesn’t work.”
Scott said this week that he hoped to re-sign until at least 2020 with contract talks to start in the off-season.
Civoniceva – State of Origin’s most capped prop with 33 for Queensland – saluted ex-Maroons teammate Scott’s durability in his 13th season.
“That just shows his toughness,” he said.
“No one can ever question that about him, he just rolls up the sleeves and gets on with it.
“Last week you could see he was in discomfort but it’s a testament to his mental and physical strength.
“No doubt he will again lead from the front on Friday night.”
Scott underwent off-season surgery on a bulging disc in his neck.
Cowboys coach Paul Green hinted that his co-captain may require some more medical assistance after their 2016 campaign.
“He copped an elbow (in the back) early against Brisbane which added just one more thing to the list of stuff he has to deal with on a weekly basis,” Green said.
“I don’t want to understate what he has to put himself through to get himself on the paddock.
“But there is nothing that stops him from functioning. He is just dealing with pain which he is pretty good at.
“But he’s fine. There is a light at the end of the tunnel now.”