RUGBY LEAGUE: Decorated Sydney Roosters and New South Wales State of Origin legend Anthony Minichiello visited Maroon heartland on Thursday but that didn't stop excited students at St John's from lining up to ask the former fullback a question on his glittering 302-game NRL career.
Minichiello, who was in Roma as part of the NRL Road to Regions tour, spoke about life as an elite rugby league player at the top level, from preparation before a game to interacting with fans off the field.
Well known in rugby league circles for maintaining peak physical condition, Minichiello articulated the importance of making sure to do the hard work during the week leading up to game day.
"If you haven't properly prepared leading into the week then you'll carry a little bit of doubt before a game, and when you have doubt, that's when you make mistakes on the field.”
After winning the golden boot award for the world's best player in 2005, Minichiello suffered a string of horrendous neck, back and ankle injuries that curtailed his game time for the next four years. Some in the media questioned whether he could return after a long lay-off.
"I had to keep re-setting my goals after each injury, but I always had the belief that I would come back,” he said.
"Then there were the other things said in the media that provided extra motivating factors, but I still had that drive and didn't have any plans to retire.”
Minichiello takes pride in giving back to fans of the game which stems from a personal experience he had as a schoolboy.
"There was a point when I was in high school and we had a first-grade footballer come in and I went up and asked him for a photo and he said no and it's always stuck with me,” he said.
"I try to never brush anyone wanting a photo and through my work with the NRL, I actually enjoy giving back to people.”
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.