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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 February 2007, 09:37 GMT
Broncos expect Saints to hit form
By Elizabeth Hudson & Phil Harlow

Brisbane Broncos' Petero Civoniceva
The experienced Civoniceva is a key figure for the Broncos
Brisbane prop Petero Civoniceva says his side have not taken much notice of St Helens' poor form ahead of Friday's World Club Challenge clash in Bolton.

Saints, who won the treble last season, have surprisingly lost two of their three Super League games this season.

Civoniceva, part of the team who lost to Saints in 2001, told BBC Sport: "We can't afford to be less than sharp.

"Over the past few years, Australian teams have found it difficult to come here and win the World Club Challenge."

Broncos skipper Darren Lockyer told BBC Sport his side had picked out Saints hooker Keiron Cunningham as the danger man they need to stop.

"He's a very strong player out of dummy-half and we'll have to make sure we stop him," he said.

"If they're getting quick play-the-balls and he's running around causing havoc then we'll be in strife.

"It's a case of stopping the momentum because if Cunningham gets on a roll, then Sean Long becomes a more dangerous prospect and so does Paul Wellens.

"Those three guys are probably their most dangerous players."

Brisbane Broncos captain Darren Lockyer
This is a trophy we definitely want to add to what we won last year

Brisbane Broncos captain Darren Lockyer

St Helens battled to an 18-10 victory over Huddersfield in their first match of the season, but have since lost 14-6 to Harlequins and 29-22 to Wakefield.

But the Broncos have played just one warm-up game, a 32-6 win over Celtic Crusaders, and are wary of the danger of being caught cold.

"It was good to get the run-out," said Civoniceva, who won the man-of-the-match award. "A couple of players were suffering a bit from stiffness and jet lag after the flight from Australia.

"We dropped the ball a bit in the first half but in the second we got better field position and it has given us something to build on.

"All we can do now is work hard over this week and put in some good preparation."

Civoniceva is one of four Brisbane players who played in the 2001 match between the two sides, along with captain Darren Lockyer, Shaun Berrigan and Dane Carlaw.

On that occasion, a couple of late drop-goals by Paul Sculthorpe and Sean Long sealed a 20-18 win for Saints at the Reebok Stadium.

St Helens hooker Keiron Cunningham
Cunningham has been singled out for special attention

Australian clubs have sometimes been accused of not taking the match seriously, but the Broncos' decision to fly over early and arrange a warm-up match against the Crusaders suggests a different mindset.

And captain Lockyer said his side were desperate to follow their NRL Grand Final victory with a win at the Reebok.

"We're up for it, without a doubt," said Lockyer.

"We've been here before in 2001 and didn't get a win. So the club - from coach Wayne Bennett through to the players - have prepared really well.

"This is a trophy we definitely want to add to what we won last year.

"They've got a pretty good outfit to say the least and they've been pretty dominant for a while so it's going to be tough."

Wakefield 29-22 St Helens
18 Feb 07 |  Super League
Lockyer pleased with warm-up win
15 Feb 07 |  Rugby League
Lockyer fit for Saints Challenge
12 Feb 07 |  Rugby League


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