As he explored ways to rehabilitate his broken body and prolong his NRL career at the back end of the 2000s, Anthony Minichiello discovered a passion for nutrition which has continued to serve him well a decade into retirement.
After playing in four Grand Finals through the opening six years of his career, and earning both state and international honours, the flying fullback endured a horror four-year stretch between 2006 and 2009, with a spate of serious injuries to his back, neck and ankle restricting him to just 33 games in that period.
As he faced the real prospect of early retirement, Minichiello began to ponder what his next move would be and developed the idea of Minifit, a business focussed on delivering fitness activities for children, with school holiday and in-term programs.
For the first two years ‘Mini’ balanced running the business with playing for the Roosters, which included captaining them to the 2013 Premiership, before he called it a day at the end of following season.
A look back at the 2013 grand final
“It’s meant my transition to life after footy has been really seamless. Having started Minifit while I was still playing, I was building my business while I still worked at the Roosters,” Minichiello tells NRL.com.
“In 2008 I really got into nutrition and understood the power it does have on the body, and I’d always loved working with kids and loved fitness.
“Around 2012 I saw a lot of primary schools were outsourcing physical education and getting companies in to run programs and I saw a gap in the market.”
Minichiello with the magic act
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Minichiello became a qualified nutritionist, adding to the Certificate 3 in Shop Fitting and Certificate 4 in Sports Development & Strength & Conditioning qualifications he gained during his career, with support from the NRL/RLPA Wellbeing & Education Program.
In addition to running Minifit, the 42-year-old now also works a day a week with the Roosters, advising the club on nutrition matters and helping shape the players’ dietary plans.
Through that ongoing link with the club, which he remains the all-time top try-scorer and second most capped player for, Minichiello has also found a way to give young players an opportunity to work at Minifit.
“It’s fantastic and kids love that there is an athlete there at the sessions,” Minichiello says.
“The boys have done their working with children checks and first aid courses and they love being outdoors and working in health and fitness.
“They are perfect in that arena.”
Tupou breaks through to set up Minichiello
Away from work, Minichiello says his body is now back in great shape, with tennis his current competitive outlet of choice.
“Three years ago I had a disk replacement and fusion done in lower back, so I sort of have a brand new back now which is fantastic,” he says.
“Tennis is what I am into at the moment. I love the sport and the fitness side of it and it’s great to still be competitive.”