While there is no doubting the supreme ability of the Roosters fullback, after nearly 3 seasons of stop start football – only his top skill level allows him to walk in and out of the first grade Sydney Roosters side after so much injury interruption.
How much longer can it go on? Minichiello must consider his own health and the Roosters must surely be looking to the future, finding a fullback that will be a long term prospect; not a month to month consideration.
The former Australian custodian was hooked from the training paddock yesterday after earlier scans came through and confirmed he has a bulging disk in his neck which is touching on his spine.
Early reports rule-out the chance that the injury could be career-ending, at this early stage it seems Minichiello will be off the field for around 4-6 weeks. These time frames put a heap of pressure on the Roosters NRL finals claims for 2008. Injecting Minichiello back into the side around finals time is certainly not ideal. He has the ability, there is no doubting that – however combinations and match fitness must be assessed by Fittler.
Acting upon scans taken on Thursday, the specialist has advised that Minichiello rest during this period to recover from the injury.
No immediate surgery is required.
Sydney Roosters club Doctor John Orchard has confirmed that the current injury is not directly related to the fullback’s previous lower back injuries.
“I am disappointed that I will be out for the 4-6 weeks,” said Minichiello.
“However I’m relieved with the diagnosis and am looking forward to re-joining my team mates after this time.”
Meanwhile, club physio Tony Ayoub admits Minichiello’s quick response to early treatment has shown positive signs.
“Anthony has been receiving physio treatment for this injury and has improved substantially in this time,” said Ayoub.
“We will continue this treatment and aim to have him back on the field as soon as possible.”
The Roosters have confirmed Amos Roberts will replace Minichiello in the No.1 jersey for their clash with the Knights on Sunday at EnergyAustralia Stadium.
While Minichiello’s injury resulted in a backline reshuffle for the Roosters, Knights coach Brian Smith was forced to take similar action with his pack after NSW prop Ben Cross was given the all clear to resume playing following the broken hand suffered in Origin I.
Smith confirmed Cross would start in the front row, but exactly who would make way for his return remained unclear.
Either way, it’s set the scene for a titanic battle up the middle, one that even has coach Smith salivating.
“I’m looking forward to this, it’s probably the first time since I’ve been here that we’re ready for a big test against a big team,” Smith.
“It won’t be the be all and end all of whether we win or lose but it’s certainly a great time for us – just over halfway through the season – to measure ourselves against a team in pretty good form and justifiably one of the contenders for the premiership.”
Much interest will centre on the battle between Knights prop Danny Wicks and Roosters veteran Mark O’Meley after the pair exchanged heated words in the aftermath of Newcastle’s dramatic 34-20 round six win.
Wicks scored a blockbusting try late in the game, leaving a handful of Roosters defenders lying in his wake.
Roosters coach Brad Fittler has said he would use the run as a motivational ploy in the lead-up to the game while Smith has put a gag on his young charge.
‘We had a bit of a discussion about how he wanted to be portrayed,” Smith said of Wicks.
“It was my advice to him to lay low.
“Most of us coaches like our footballers, particularly our front rowers, to let their game do the talking and he’s only a young fella making his way in the game.
“He can do without having any extra pressure on him trying to live up to what the media expects of him.”