Mini marks major milestone
Mark Minichiello couldn't even celebrate his 250th NRL appearance against the Rabbitohs on Monday night without big brother Anthony getting in on the act.
Minichiello junior – less than two years younger than his more celebrated sibling – chalks up a personal milestone 13 years in the making and in doing so he and Anthony become just the third set of brothers to each play more than 250 first grade games in Australian rugby league.
The Minichiellos will now stand alongside Steve and Chris Mortimer and Steve and Kevin Walters as the only brothers to have both surpassed 250, a mark that Mark reaches against the club with whom he played 85 games across four seasons from 2003 to 2006.
Ever since Anthony was signed to the Roosters as a teenager, Mark has been trying to prove his worth and for former Rabbitohs teammate Scott Geddes, reaching 250 games is just reward for a whole-hearted performer.
"In his own right 'Mini' has had a pretty awesome career playing 250 games and he'd be well and truly out of that shadow now," Geddes said of the pressure associated with being mini 'Mini'.
"In saying that he's the younger brother to Anthony Minichiello who is an absolute legend and done everything there is to achieve in the game."
Throughout his career Minichiello has been prone to make the occasional error but Geddes says that is simply a by-product of his competitive nature, an attribute for which he should be praised.
"He got that sort of reputation but the thing with Mini is that he has always been such a competitor," said Geddes, who was a teammate of Minichiello's throughout his stint at Redfern.
"From day one, it didn't matter what we were doing at training he'd always be trying to win it, whether it was conditioning or playing a game of touch footy. It didn't matter what it was he was trying to win.
"Every single tackle he'd be wrestling and get every single metre so that's maybe where he might have had that error but I'd definitely want a player like that on my team every day of the week rather than a bloke who was always trying to play it safe all the time and taking the tackle."
Monday night's clash with the Rabbitohs will be Minichiello's 164th game for the Titans, the most by any player as he is one of only two surviving members of the inaugural 2007 team along with Luke Bailey.
Only twice in the past seven years as he played less than 22 games each season and at 32 years of age he remains determined to continue playing, whether that is on the Gold Coast, elsewhere in the NRL or even overseas.
"I feel I'm playing good football, my body feels good and I believe I've got a lot more to offer," Minichiello said. "I'm not ready to stop yet. I'm coming into some really good form and I believe I can continue that for at least another couple of years.
"I'd love to be in the NRL still. I think I've got a lot to offer teams and if it's not here on the [Gold] Coast hopefully I can be in the NRL.
"I still love the game and I don't want to give up and if I've got to go overseas then that might be a new challenge that I have to look at.
"It's ironic that I established myself as a first-grader at Souths and now 13 years later I'm playing my 250th against them.
"It's going to be a special moment, I really enjoyed my time at Souths those first four years and to play 250 against them down there is going to be pretty special."
For his former roommate at the Rabbitohs, Minichiello's greatest asset has always been his energy and enthusiasm that he brought not only on the field, but to even the most mundane of everyday tasks.
"He's got plenty of energy, that's for sure, and he just gets excited about anything," Geddes told NRL.com.
"I remember one trip away, it was a weird little thing to get excited about, but he said, 'We haven't had an ice cream yet! Let's go and get an ice cream!' How do you get so excited about having an ice cream?
"But he's just one of those guys who is enthusiastic about everything that he does. He's an absolute champion; I can't speak highly enough of him."