Sydney Roosters no. 1 Anthony Minichiello may have been fighting a back injury on and off for over 24 months, but after weeks of training with a new sprint coach and some improved technique, the Bondi-flyer is set to return to the NRL quicker than ever before.
It’s been widely reported that Minichiello has suffered back problems since 2006 and the NSW and Australian fullback has undergone back operations on bulging spinal discs at least twice, but ironically a forced change in sprinting style has seen the 28 year old improve his running times out of sight.
Renowned sprint coach Roger Fabri has worked closely with Mini over the past few weeks to put his back problems behind him, and through an improved running technique Minichiello has been running at least 10 per cent faster.
“When I first saw Anthony run, I was shocked. He had terrible style,” Fabri said.
“He would finish the acceleration phase then arch his back and throw his head backwards. All too upright.
“So when the weight should be over his hips it was actually behind them. His lower back copping way too much stress.
Minichiello is expected to be ready to return in only a couple of weeks, but will have a new explosion of pace to his already damaging running style.
“He has played for NSW and Australia but his sprinting technique has been anything but what I would teach my athletes,” Fabri said.
“But now, with the improvements we’ve made, I honestly believe he can run faster than ever before.
“I mean, we’ve only been working together three weeks and already he’s shaved three metres off his 30m times. So in a few more weeks… well, he could make improvements some sprinters wait a whole lifetime for.”
The return of Minichiello will be an awesome prospect for the Roosters who are remaining in hot form in the NRL. With all the new recruits for 2008 starting to build good combinations and responding well to the style of Brad Fittler, the injection of Minichiello as the business end of the season approaches adds even more potency for the Sydney side.