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Mini marvels at milestone

Date

MICHAEL CHAMMAS

So long … captain Braith Anasta says goodbye to the fans at the end of his last home game for the Roosters.

So long … captain Braith Anasta says goodbye to the fans at the end of his last home game for the Roosters. Photo: Getty Images

Anthony Minichiello walked into the sheds before his 250th NRL appearance yesterday to a wall posted full of messages of appreciation for his services to the Roosters over 13 seasons.

But the real testament to the Roosters fullback was the fact he was still shaking hands with supporters, in what was also Braith Anasta's final home game, almost 45 minutes after full-time.

It was the perfect end to what was an emotional week for the 32-year-old, who was cleared to celebrate the milestone after escaping a striking charge on Canberra's Josh Dugan on Wednesday night.

"I've been here since I was 16, so I've been here half my life" ... Anthony Minichiello.

"I've been here since I was 16, so I've been here half my life" ... Anthony Minichiello. Photo: Getty Images

''It's pretty special to play 250 games for the [one] club,'' he said. ''I've been here since I was 16, so I've been here half my life. The start of the week was unexpected for me … but I finally got that result.

''I moved on to the game and speaking to a lot of the boys, they rang me the past boys who played 250, to offer me support. Fitzy [Craig Fitzgibbon], Ricko [Luke Ricketson], Freddy [Brad Fittler], Finchy [Brett Finch]. It was a tight-knit group we had at the Roosters a long time ago and they showed their support.''

Anasta celebrated his final game as a Rooster on home soil with a victory against the club he will join for pre-season training in two months' time. The former Bulldog was full of gratitude to the club after the emphatic victory.

''I've been blessed given the opportunity to play at the club and captain the club as well,'' he said. ''It's made me the person I am today. I'll be forever grateful for the Roosters. It's been an integral part of my life. I've met a lot of lovely people here and I've learnt a lot … I'll leave the Roosters a lot better person than when I came here. It's been awesome.''

The milestones proved to be a motivator for the Roosters, as they left their best performance of the season to the penultimate round.

Coach Brian Smith said he sensed something special was brewing. ''Craig Fitzgibbon … he said to me yesterday: 'Coach, I think and they all think that we are 100 per cent going to win tomorrow,'' he said.

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