Minichiello, Patten set for last battle - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Minichiello, Patten set for last battle

By David Beniuk 17/07/2010 12:11:18 PM Comments (0)

A glimpse of a passing era will be on offer when veteran fullbacks Anthony Minichiello and Luke Patten do battle in Sunday's clash between in-form sides the Sydney Roosters and Canterbury.

The rivalry round clash could be the final time the long-time competitors come up against each other in the NRL.

The careers of the two 30-year-olds have tracked side by side since Rooster Minichiello made his debut, against the Bulldogs, in 2000 and the Dogs' Patten in 2001.

They faced off in the 2004 grand final, a win for Patten, and have even undergone the same career-saving operation on serious back injuries.

"Sometimes you do keep track of players when you play for a long time and my career's sort of been the same length as Mini's, so I have kept an eye on him," Patten told AAP ahead of the Sydney Football Stadium match.

"He's a fantastic player, he has been for a long time.

"It was sad to see him injured for so long as well at the peak of his powers.

"It's just great that he's come back and is playing good footy."

Minichiello played 18 Tests and nine State of Origin games and was voted the world's best player in 2005.

Patten might have played more representative football but for Minichiello and the Bulldogs custodian says he, along with every other fullback, measured themselves against the Roosters No.1 in his prime.

"He definitely was the benchmark," Patten said.

"He was a bit of an iron man, he was playing in every game and not just playing, he was one of the best players in most of the games he played in.

"Maybe that took its toll on his body a little bit as well and he might be paying for it a little bit."

A crippling back problem suffered in 2006 was the price for Minichiello before he fought his way through more injury setbacks and a stint on the wing to eventually reclaim the Roosters' No.1 jersey in mid-2010.

Patten used his rival's battle as inspiration when he suffered the same back complaint in 2008.

"He's had the surgery I had and came back so he was a guy I looked at and thought, if he can do it then I can do it as well," he said.

With Minichiello off-contract and Patten reportedly considering Super League offers, an era will be over on Sunday afternoon if the Roosters and Dogs don't meet in the finals.

Patten says a new style of fullback, in the mould of Jarryd Hayne or Darius Boyd, is ready to fill the void.

"The fullback position itself has probably evolved away from me and Mini a bit," he said.

"We're more ball-runners whereas now it's almost like a ball-playing position in itself.

"They're guys that can carry the ball but they're also guys that can create opportunities."

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