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26th June 2019, 16:39 | Hull
The Hull FC second row is set to reach the appearances milestone in Thursday’s derby at Hull KR in the Betfred Super League.
It is an achievement of which the 37-year-old is proud, but the two-time Coral Challenge Cup winner does not want to stop there.
Having never played in a Grand Final during a career which has also taken in Sydney Roosters, South Sydney Rabbitohs and Gold Coast Titans, the Australian is eyeing this year’s Old Trafford showpiece.
Minichiello, who might have reached the landmark against Catalans Dragons last week but for a minor groin injury, said: “I’ve been playing since I was six years old and every year since. It’s a long time.
“Yes, 400 career games is a massive achievement, something I’m really proud of. It’s something that not many people get to do. I’ve been very blessed and I’m grateful for the long career that I’ve had.
“I haven’t played in a Grand Final, been striving for that for 18, 19 years now. Four hundred games on I would still love to do that and hopefully I get the opportunity to do that this year.”
Hull were inconsistent throughout the first half of the season but have climbed to third after three successive wins.
Minichiello said: “It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster ride – we’ve had some really good performances and some really poor performances – but when you look at where we’re sitting at the moment, we’re in a really good spot, sitting third and in the semi-finals of the cup. We want to be in the five if not higher.”
Hull’s season began in February with a narrow derby defeat at the hands of Rovers but the Airlie Birds turned the tables in handsome fashion, winning 56-12, when the sides met again in April.
Rovers are now bottom of the table but new coach Tony Smith has already engineered a victory over second-placed Warrington Wolves and Minichiello warns nothing can be taken for granted in a derby.
He said: “They’ve not been going too well this year but that doesn’t matter when it comes to the derby. Everything changes once you step on that field in a derby, we’re expecting a really tough game.”
Smith expects the derby week to bring out the best in his players, which could include new signing Matt Parcell - who has been named in the 19-man squad after his switch from Leeds Rhinos on Wednesday, with Shaun Lunt moving in the opposite direction.
He told Hull KR TV: “It’s a good week for us to knuckle down and show what we are capable of.
“When the club is not in a position that it wants to be it’s how you stick together as a whole club and I’m sure we’ll get some special support on Thursday – that unity – and that’s an important thing.”