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The Face of Rugby League – and the features that fit

by Amber Wallace from LadiesWhoLeague

I have always considered Anthony Minichiello to be the ‘true’ face of rugby league prior to the National Rugby League making it official on 11 February 2014.  Having had the pleasure of meeting Anthony in 2004 spontaneously, he’s a wonderful speaker, kind, polite and genuinely happy to talk about the game – in an objective way.

Anthony is from Liverpool in Sydney’s west which is right in the  middle of Rugby League’s heartland.  Now and then if a player joins the Sydney Roosters, they are perceived to be joining the ‘latte set’ or silvertails.  Anthony is still the same guy who ran onto the field for the Sydney Roosters in February 2000 and has only ever got into strife in 2004 after a State of Origin team bonding session gone too far – subsequently being sacked from the team.  Thankfully, the NSW selectors gave him a second chance and New South Wales won the series – something that has eluded the New South Wales Blues since 2005.

In 2004 Anthony went on to win the Dally M Fullback of the year and the Harry Sunderland medal – personal awards only bestowed upon those who put the team first and shine that bit brighter…week in and week out.   Anthony continued to achieve, achieve & achieve in 2005 which included his winning the Golden Boot award as the International Player of the Year.

As we all know, life is a rollercoaster and between 2006 and 2010 was one giant curveball for Anthony and the Sydney Roosters with his recurring back injury.  For this Sydney Rooster supporter, patience was hard to hang on to at times in this period, but in typical Minichiello magnificence, Anthony continued to play 110% when back on the field and the Sydney Roosters played in their fourth grand final in a decade – an accomplishment only true leadership can manage.  There’s also 2013’s sensational year for Anthony which included plenty of silverware and a baby girl to boot.

Not surprisingly, the ‘poster boy curse’ has been highlighted and for good reason.  The experiences of wonderful players such as Benji Marshall, Brett Stewart, Todd Carney & Ben Barba after their appointment of the Face of Rugby League have been upsetting, unfortunate and incredibly frustrating for fans.  I don’t have a crystal ball though I have all the faith in the world that Anthony will lead the National Rugby League to its best year yet.

Facial features are unique, usually run in the family and nowadays become altered all too easily with the help of cosmetic surgery. Anthony is an enlightening choice for 2014 as his face is one of an inspirational leader whose features hold the potential to make dreams come true.


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