Sport Rugby League Minichiello savouring every moment
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Minichiello savouring every moment

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Retiring Sydney Roosters skipper Anthony Minichiello insists he’s not concerned about his form and has put his poor performance against North Queensland last week firmly behind him.

The 34-year-old fullback will make his 301st appearance in Roosters colours in Friday’s NRL preliminary final clash with South Sydney and admits the prospect of it being his last ever game has crossed his mind this week.

However, Minichiello said his mistake that led to a Robert Lui try in last Friday’s astonishing 31-30 win over a Cowboys side that had trailed 30-0 was something he hadn’t dwelled upon.

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“Last week has gone now, straight after the game your focus is on the next game,” Minichiello said.

“It’s a big challenge for us against Souths and that is all I am worried about.

Minichiello has been a mainstay of the Roosters for 14 years.
Minichiello has been a mainstay of the Roosters for 14 years.

“My confidence is fine. I have made a couple of mistakes in recent games but you have to put them straight behind you.”

The former Test and NSW star has enjoyed a stellar career that saw him crowned the best player in the world nine years ago and been a consistent performer for the Roosters since debuting in 2000 as a 19-year-old.

But for the first time his displays have come under the microscope, with Penrith playmaker Jamie Soward saying he targeted Minichiello in the Panthers’ recent win over the Roosters.

“I always mark myself hard, I have done my whole career,” Minichiello said.

“No one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes. I don’t really read the papers. If you start worrying about everything outside the game then you are going to get into trouble.”

Merritt announcement puts spring in Bunnies

South Sydney coach Michael Maguire says the retirement of Nathan Merritt has given his teammates a chance to reflect on the culture the club has created ahead of Friday’s clash with the Roosters.

Merritt, 31, broke the club’s long-standing try-scoring mark with his 145th four-pointer earlier this year and announced his retirement in a packed conference room at Redfern Oval on Wednesday before family, friends, teammates and club officials.

Souths boss Shane Richardson and captain John Sutton said Merritt had played a key role in lifting the Rabbitohs from the competition cellar in 2002, when they returned to the competition and the one-time NSW representative made his NRL debut, to their status as premiership heavyweights today.

Boom rookie Alex Johnston has been preferred on the Rabbitohs wing over Merritt by Maguire since mid-season.

Merritt won’t play in the ANZ Stadium clash against Souths’ bitter arch-rivals but he has been training with the squad in the lead up and Maguire said his 13-year career would prove an inspiration to teammates ahead of the clash with the Roosters.

“I’m sure it will,” he said.

“He has played a big part in where we are now.

“Everything Nathan has done has been about the team and we enjoy having him around the boys all the time.”

Merritt said he would be a happy viewer on Friday.

“I’m still part of the team, I am training with the boys and I’m looking forward to cheering them on,” he said.

AAP

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