Souths are set to target Roosters captain Anthony Minichiello in Friday’s NRL semi-final.
South Sydney look set to target out-of-sorts Sydney Roosters fullback Anthony Minichiello in Friday’s NRL preliminary final, in the same way they brutally exposed the shortcomings of Manly winger Jorge Taufua.
Minichiello has committed two crucial errors in the premiers’ two finals matches so far, opening the door for Penrith to secure a come-from-behind 19-18 win in the first qualifying final and allowing North Queensland to mount the mother of all comebacks in last week’s semi-final before falling short 31-30.
One of the modern game’s most decorated players, Minichiello will notch up a record-breaking 302 first grade games for the Roosters when he takes the field against Souths at ANZ Stadium.
The former NSW and Australian representative was a driving force in the Roosters’ surge to the 2013 title, but in this season’s playoffs his form and judgment has dipped.
He failed to secure the football ahead of Dean Whare’s levelling try late in the clash with the Panthers and last week couldn’t defuse a Cowboys bomb that led to a Ethan Lowe four-pointer.
The error against the Cowboys kick-started their scoring spree and Minichiello later threw an errant pass on his own line which gifted Robert Lui a try.
Taufua was so badly exposed under the high ball by the kicking of Souths halfback Adam Reynolds in the second qualifying final that the tackle-busting winger was dumped by coach Geoff Toovey in favour of Cheyse Blair for last week’s 18-17 semi-final loss to Canterbury.
Asked whether Minichiello would be the new target for Reynolds on Friday, Souths fullback Greg Inglis gave little away – but certainly wasn’t ruling it out.
“I’m not the kicker, but I’m pretty sure Madge (coach Michael Maguire) will get around to his kickers and tell them where to go,” he said.
“We have really good young kids with good heads on them, they will steer us around the park.”
In his last six matches, Minichiello has made 16 errors. His season tally is 41 which is the most of any player in the NRL this year.
In comparison Inglis has made 13 errors this season.