Minichiello poised for 400 games landmark
Former NRL battler Mark Minichiello is preparing to cross off his 400th career game - with the English Super League Grand Final his next target.
The Hull second row, who played over 250 NRL games during 13 seasons in the competition, is set to reach the appearances milestone in Thursday's Super League derby at Hull KR.
It is an achievement of which the 37-year-old Australian is proud, but the two-time Challenge Cup winner does not want to stop there.
Having never played in a Grand Final in a career which has also taken in Sydney Roosters, South Sydney Rabbitohs and 173 appearances for Gold Coast Titans, Minichiello - brother of former Roosters captain and Australia fullback Anthony - is eyeing this year's Old Trafford showpiece to cap his distinguished playing stint.
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, who played for Italy at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, 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.