'The sweetest one yet': Mini's major focus

Roosters fullback Anthony Minichiello says victory over St George Illawarra this Sunday would mean more to him than the Roosters’ last premiership success in 2002.<br><br>The veteran custodian has been to hell and back in recent times with chronic back injuries and a serious ankle injury limiting to just 33 appearances in four years before his successful return this season.<br><br>He had previously been a regular in the NSW and Australian sides, won the prestigious Golden Boot award in 2005 and was a member of Roosters grand final sides in 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2004 but Minichiello said that another premiership this year would top them all.<br><br>“It would be particularly special because when I first came into first grade I played in four grand finals in five years, so I thought that’s what happened every year,” he said today. <br><br>“Then we went through a down period with the club and personally I had all of those injuries as well. <br><br>“Now that we’re back in another grand final I think it’s actually more satisfying. <br><br>“Being a little bit older, you realise how tough it is to win a premiership and I think you take things in a lot more.<br><br>“If we do win it will be a great feeling.”<br><br>Minichiello was renowned as the iron man of the NRL during the early 2000s, his 96 games for the Sydney Roosters, City Origin, NSW and Australia between 2002-04 more than any of his rugby league peers.<br><br>But a back injury that limited him to just six games in 2006 had many wondering if he could ever return to his peak.<br><br>Incredibly, the 30-year-old missed a whopping 65 games between 2006-09 but he insisted today that he had never seriously considered calling it quits.<br><br>“Not at all,” he said. “I always believed in myself that I’d get back on the field – it just took a lot longer than I thought. <br><br>“A lot of people thought I was close to retiring but I never believed that. I always believed in my ability to come back and play good footy.”<br><br>Asked how he felt to have finally enjoyed a full season again in 2010, Minichiello said: “It’s pretty satisfying. I’ve been pretty happy with my form this year. <br><br>“It’s been a successful season for the club, people have been playing well individually and I’m happy with my back end of the season.”<br><br>Like many of his Sydney Roosters team-mates, Minichiello was deeply hurt by the disasters of last season, when the once-mighty club slumped from one low to another before eventually finishing with the wooden spoon.<br><br>But the club’s longest-serving current player said that the club needed to hit rock bottom to undergo the complete makeover that has led them to where they are now.<br><br>“I’ve been here since 1997 and it was the first time they’ve changed the complete coaching staff – it felt like a new club when we arrived at pre-season training,” he said.<br><br>“It was refreshing… sometimes change is a good thing. It gives you new challenges and new things to look forward to.<br><br>“But we also knew we had a much better squad than where we finished last year.<br><br>“We worked hard in the off-season and we had belief in ourselves that we could give the competition a shake.<br>&nbsp;<br>“By about halfway through the year we really started to think we could do something.”