Minichiello helping Tedesco restore Roosters' defensive reputation
James Tedesco is poring over the 2013 premiership highlights of Roosters legend Anthony Minichiello in a bid to restore the club's reputation as the toughest defence in the game.
Minichiello, one of the most accomplished custodians of the modern era, skippered the Tricolours to their last premiership in 2013, marshalling the brutal defence that secured the title.
Since Tedesco's arrival at Bondi on a multi-million dollar, four-year deal, Trent Robinson and his former captain have conducted in-depth video analysis sessions with their new custodian, bringing Tedesco up to speed with the Roosters defensive structures.
"We watched some footage of Mini from 2013 and the way he just worked from side to side, it's hard to notice if you're not watching him but when you watch his movements it's definitely something that I want to get to," Tedesco said.
"He was at the peak of his game then. He was probably one of the best defensive fullbacks the way he's moved and organised the defensive line when he was fullback. To learn off him like that is awesome."
Minichiello proved a key figure in luring Tedesco east from Wests Tigers last year, drawing on the close bond the pair struck up as Italian teammates at the 2013 World Cup.
Only Melbourne have conceded fewer points than the Roosters over the past five seasons, with Minichiello lauding Storm champion Billy Slater as the "benchmark when it comes to organising a defence, and someone you'd love to emulate".
In the last two years of Minichiello's tenure, the Roosters conceded a miserly 14.8 points a game, which has increased to a still respectable 18.1 since the club's most-capped player called it a day.
Melbourne have since matched that stingy Tricolours defence of yesteryear, conceding an average of 13.3 points a game since 2016.
As a result, Tedesco's work without the ball has been a pet project at Roosters HQ, with Minichiello schooling him in one of the game's more intricate facets before their showdown with arch-rivals South Sydney on Thursday.
"We go through his defensive movements and his organisation of the line," Minichiello told NRL.com.
"At the Roosters we put a huge emphasis on fullbacks in defence, basically giving the onus to the fullback that 'this is your defensive line, you own it'. The goal-line defence can get frantic and that's where Teddy's doing really well, his organisation and his voice is really strong.
"Robbo wants to make sure he can be the top-line fullback in the NRL and to be a complete player you need both sides of attack and defence.
"We all know that he's got the attacking side of things down and those combinations are starting to build, but if he can get that defensive side too, which he's grasped quite quickly, he'll be a much more complete player."
Across the way, Rabbitohs skipper Greg Inglis maintains he has no immediate plans to revert to fullback as he continues his return from last year's season-ending ACL rupture.
Alex Johnston will instead oppose Tedesco in the red and green No.1, with Inglis admitting the pre-season favourites are starting to hit their straps after a strong win over Cronulla last week.
"The Roosters are tracking along nicely, they got a good win at Shark Park last week so they will be coming with confidence from what they did last week," Inglis said.
"We just need to turn up and be ready for what will be thrown at us."