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Roosters legend Anthony Minichiello was the quintessential kid growing up in Australia, combining sports and mateship as he spent his spare time on the running track, in the gym or in the swimming pool.

In fact Minichiello was what we would today call an 'all-rounder', but instead of cricket his strengths were gymnastics and Little Athletics. 

It's not the sort of upbringing you'd normally associate with an NRL star, but thankfully for the rugby league world it didn't take long before he laced on the footy boots. 

It wasn't until he was 10 years of age that he started playing rugby league; a decision he puts solely on the whims of a few of his friends.  

"At that point, some friends from school said they were joining a local rugby league team and they asked if I wanted to join them," Minichiello told  

"I decided to sign up because my mates were playing and that's what I think junior footy is all about, having fun with your mates. 

"I fell in love with the game straight away and as I got to 11s, 12s, 13s, I gave up every other sport to focus a little bit more on rugby league. 

"My first junior team was the Liverpool Catholic Club and then I moved on to East Valley United where I spent most of my junior footy at.

"The comradery is what got me over the line to stick with footy. I've still got a lot of mates from back then who are lifelong friends. 

"I think team sports are important for young kids because it means they don't just focus on themselves. They have to rely on others, and others have to rely on you so it helps develop that sense of belonging." 

Spotted in his mid-teens by rugby league Immortal Arthur Beetson, Minichiello was quickly snapped up by the Roosters where he played 302 games, won two premierships and captained the club until his retirement at the end of the 2014 season. 

The 36-year-old is still involved with the Tricolours and was one of 46 NRL Ambassadors announced at Rugby League Central earlier this month. 

"I was lucky enough to be signed by the great Arthur Beetson when I was 16," he said. 

"I got invited to a camp at Narrabeen where Arthur spoke to the kids that were there. I could tell he had a presence about him from day one and we ended up great mates.

"I started out as a centre and that's where I signed for the Roosters. I moved onto the wing for my first grade debut and then moved to fullback three years later.

"Now I'm about to start my third year as an NRL Ambassador and I'm loving it. I owe a lot to rugby league and it's great that I can give back now that I've retired." 

This article first appeared on NRL.COM