It pains him to admit it but North Queensland co-captain Matt Scott hopes mentor Petero Civoniceva's glittering NRL career ends in Townsville tomorrow night.

Indeed, the only retiring veteran the Cowboys want to see go out a winner is unheralded hooker Aaron Payne ahead of their NRL elimination final against Brisbane.

Scott's respect for Civoniceva was clear on Wednesday as soon as the Broncos warhorse was inevitably mentioned ahead of the must-win clash. Together they had helped Queensland win a remarkable seven straight Origin series victories, but off the field they had forged a friendship Scott clearly rated much higher than yet another win over the Cockroaches.

However, there was no place for sentiment when Scott was asked how he felt about drawing the curtain on Civoniceva's amazing run.


"As sad as it is to say I hope it is his last game," Scott said. "Big Petero has had a wonderful career and unfortunately if we do get the win it will be his last game.

"I prefer someone else had to do it."

Scott joked that Civoniceva was fishing for a similar compliment after learning the Broncos veteran this week rated the Cowboys bruiser the "No 1 prop in the game".

But he was sincere when asked to rank the Brisbane veteran in the annals of the game.

"You just have to look at his record, the games he has played and the teams he has played for and the success he has had - he is up there with the best," Scott said. "He is No 1 for me."

The pre-match hype may focus on Civoniceva but the Cowboys made it clear they wanted to honour another veteran during the finals - the unsung Payne.

Considered one of the best hookers never to represent Queensland, Payne along with playmaker Johnathan Thurston and fullback Matt Bowen are the only survivors from their 2005 grand final heartache.