Fittler backs Mini for Roosters return - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Fittler backs Mini for Roosters return

By Philip Henderson 06/08/2008 03:01:37 PM Comments (0)

Sydney Roosters coach Brad Fittler is confident Anthony Minichiello will play a part in the NRL club's premiership bid despite admitting the former Test fullback was starting to struggle mentally with his constant injury problems.

The Roosters were hoping to have their star No.1 back on deck for Sunday's match against Parramatta after nearly two months out with a neck injury, but such a comeback continues to remains in limbo after Minichiello pulled up sore in training this week.

The 28-year-old, who has played just 22 games in the past three seasons because of persistent back problems, has taken a holistic approach to his injury setbacks this season by immersing himself in books about positive thinking.

Fittler said the change in attitude had kept Minichiello upbeat during yet another frustrating season - although the coach admitted cracks were starting to show in his mental fortitude.

"I thought yesterday was the worst that I've seen him, he looked a little bit down," Fittler said of the 2005 Golden Boot winner.

"He went through a big change this year Mini, he's got into a lot of reading about mental attitude and positive thinking, and it was working.

"But he's never down long Mini.

"There wouldn't be many more blokes with more confidence, so hopefully he can get his head back in the books and get back on track.

"The whole club is confident that he'll play some more footy this year."

Minichiello's setback aside, the Roosters are getting closer to having a full strength team available for their run into the final series, with winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall named to return from a knee injury on Sunday and Setaimata Sa (shoulder) and Frank-Pau Nuuausala (eye) both possibly available in a few weeks.

Third on the ladder and three points ahead of fifth-placed Brisbane, the Roosters are assured of playing their first finals series since 2004.

Fittler, though, insisted he would not be tempted to give any of his stars a rest heading in to September.

"We'll be playing our best side every week," the second-year coach said.

"I think that's the best way to approach it. That's the way I felt as a player, I was never that comfortable about being rested and having players rested, so I think the best way is to be aggressive and give everyone a shot."

As well as the two competition points, both teams will also be playing for the inaugural Jack Gibson Cup, named in honour of rugby league's coach of the century who guided both the Roosters and Eels to premierships and passed away earlier this year.

The Roosters will be heavily favoured to lift the trophy against the struggling Eels, not only on form, but because they will take a 20-point advantage into the game.

The winner of the trophy will be decided on the combined points tally in regular-season meetings between the clubs each year, with the Roosters already holding a significant edge after winning 32-12 in round 10.

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