RUGBY LEAGUE: Decorated Sydney Roosters and New South Wales State of Origin legend Anthony Minichiello was behind enemy lines on Thursday but that didn't stop excited St George Junior Rugby League players from kicking the football around with the 302-game veteran.
Minichiello was in St George for the NRL Road to Regions tour alongside Cronulla Sharks player Kurt Capewell and ran a series of drills and exercises at Rowden Park with the southwest's next breed of rugby league superstars.
Earlier in the day, Minichiello spoke about life as an elite rugby league player, from preparation before a game to interacting with fans off the field and overcoming injury.
Well-known in rugby league circles for maintaining peak physical condition, Minichiello spoke about the importance of ensuring he always worked hard 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,” he said.
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 such a long stint on the sidelines.
"I had to keep re-setting my goals after each injury but I always had the belief 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, which stems from an experience he had as a schoolboy.
"There was a moment 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 really enjoy giving back to people.”
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