Foundation Gold Coast Titan Mark Minichiello has announced his retirement after a remarkable career spanning more than 400 top-level games and 18 seasons in the NRL and Super League.
Minichiello announced on social media that this season with Hull FC would be his last as a player.
“I’m very grateful for the long and very enjoyable career I have had,” he said. “I started playing rugby league at 6 years old and have not missed a year since. I’ve been blessed to be able to play the game I love for so long with some incredible highs and some lows throughout the almost 20-year roller coaster ride that is professional sport.”
A member of the 1999 Australian Schoolboys team, Minichiello had to wait until 2002 for his NRL debut with the Sydney Roosters, where he managed just one first grade appearance, before a move to South Sydney saw him turn out in 85 NRL games for the Rabbitohs.
In 2007, “Mini” or “The Ferrari” as his teammates nicknamed, him joined the Gold Coast Titans for the club’s first season in the NRL, forming part of a nucleus of emerging and established players who would go on to guide the Gold Coast into the NRL finals twice.
“I want to thank the Sydney Roosters, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Gold Coast Titans, Hull FC and the Italian Rugby League for the opportunity to serve them,” Minichiello said.
“No matter what team, I have always played with emotion & passion and given my very best.
“To all my teammates, coaches, trainers, medical staff and support staff over the years, you have all made an impact on my career and helped me develop into the player and person I am today.
“I have made lifelong friends, and will cherish the memories made forever.”
Minichiello represented the Titans 185 times and the NSW City team on five occasions during his time on the Gold Coast.
He was a club and fan favourite on and off the field, with his meticulous preparation and attention to detail assisting in the formation of a strong and professional culture during the formative years of the club.
Mark and wife Milena left the Gold Coast at the end of 2014, relocating to England where Mark joined Super League team Hull FC. The hard-working back-rower was once again instrumental in the creation of strong winning culture at his new club.
During his time in Super League, Minichiello represented Italy in six Tests and was part of the Hull team which claimed back-to-back Challenge Cup Finals in 2016 and 2017.
The Hull FC website recognised Minichiello as the most successful Australian to join the club during the modern era – the 37-year-old winning a host of titles and accolades during his time with the Black and Whites.
Hull FC head coach Lee Radford said Minichiello had set new standards at the Yorkshire club.
“Mini has been an outstanding servant to the club, a real top recruit,” Radford said.
“He has had a real influence on setting the culture at the club in recent years. The whole group will take away what he has brought long into their careers.
“He’s one the greatest imports we’ve had during the Super League era. His level of consistency has been so high and still, even at the age of 37, he’s showing so much energy and desire on the field.
“In time to come, he’ll be regarded as one of the great forwards to pull on a Black & White jersey.”
Hull are currently third on the Super League ladder, with Minichiello looking finish his career on a high before returning to the Gold Coast to live with his young family.
“To my beautiful wife Milena and boys, who have been my inspiration over the last 10 years, there is no way I would be still playing at 37 if it wasn’t for the love and support you have shown over the years,” Minichiello said.
“The selfless acts you show every day to make sure I can be at my best is something I will be forever grateful for.
“Lastly thanks to all my family, friends and fans who have showed so much love and support throughout my entire career it has been truly amazing
“I’m looking forward to finishing my career on a high with the black and whites. I am also very excited about a new chapter in life, sharing knowledge, inspiring change and making an impact in people’s lives.”