One of Super League’s most underrated players opens up on wanting to play for England, injuries and more

Ahead of Hull KR’s clash with Salford Red Devils in the Challenge Cup loose-forward Elliot Minchella spoke to the press.

Here is everything he said on a variety of topics from the cup, to injuries and to England.

Morale of the team given the number of injuries

“Yeah, it’s tough. It’s obviously disappointing for the lads who are getting injured, but those lads who are not, who are fit, we’ve got to pull closer together, work hard and go out and perform, and that’s the bottom line.

“Regardless of who’s out there with us, who’s on one side of us and who’s on the other, we’re playing for Hull K.R. and we’re in a privileged position. So when we pull the shirt on, we’ve got a duty to go and perform and give everything we’ve got. So that doesn’t change whoever’s in the team.

If injuries are the reason behind form: “I’m not sure. I think obviously losing key individuals is never good for any side. I think our attack has been a bit clunky. Like I said, we’re not looking for excuses. I’m certainly not looking for excuses.

“The other players in the team have to step up and that’s what we’ve been tasked to do. The people who come in, they’re good players. We’ve got good players in a good squad. We’ve every faith that whoever comes into the squad is going to perform. My job is to remain the same regardless of who’s out there.

“We can only control what we can control and we can’t control people getting injured and changes to personnel in the week and in the game.

“If I sit and worry about who’s not playing this week and who’s not played last week, or who could get injured in this game coming up, then I’m not going to do my job right. So my  job doesn’t change and I’m going to go out there on Saturday and give everything I’ve got for the team, and the club, and the fans who pay the money to come watch.

“We’ll be giving everything we’ve got and putting a good performance and try and get a win to get us into the semi-final of the Challenge Cup which is a massive. We’re playing in a quarter-final, it’s a massive game and there’s a big prize to be won if we win on Saturday.

Assessing Salford

“They’ve got two very good half-backs and a very good full-back. Their nine plays for England. They’re a good side. They’ve got good players all over the park, good strike centres.

“They’re a tough side and they’re going to come here wanting to get to the semi-final so we’re going to have to perform and the best team on the day will win and they’ll be in the semis and the other one will be out.

“I think they’re very unpredictable, you really look at the video of them and they do every shape in the book kind of thing, they throw the ball from sideline to sideline, they ask questions of you, so you’ve just got to concentrate while you’re defending.

“You could find yourself on the short side and you think the ball’s not going to come but it’ll find you, you could think they’re going to go on the short side but they’ll pass it out to the far winger.

“You’ve just got to concentrate as a defender and do core principles, which is get good line speed, talk to your teammate next to you, communicate, identify what’s in front of you, and make good decisions. Keep making them, keep making them, keep making them, for the full 80 minutes, because they don’t go away.

“Like I said, they’re very unpredictable, but that means as a defender, you’ve got to be on and you’ve got to concentrate because the ball will find you if you don’t. Then they’ll exploit you because they’ve got very good halfbacks and a good fullback who looks for people clocking off in defence and exploit lazy defenders or people who switched off.

What the Challenge Cup means

“It means a lot, it’s massive to me, I really enjoy playing in competition. Obviously as a kid, I watched the finals and been to a few finals as a kid.

“It’s a massive prestigious competition and I’m proud that I get the opportunity to play in another quarter-final of this cup. It’s an honour and not to take for granted. It’s a massive, massive occasion.

“We don’t need any extra motivation. It’s the quarterfinal of a Challenge Cup. It’s do or die. You either win and you’re in the semis or you lose and you’re out when you watch everyone else play. thinking you wish you were one of them teams.

“So we had a semi-final heartbreak last year and we don’t want to experience it again.

His form/consistency

“I’m striving for consistency. The best players in the competition are good every week. So yeah I’m aiming for consistency and I’m happy where I’m going but I’m nowhere near finished article and still got more in me and be more consistent with that.

“So yeah I’m happy but my cues not in the rack and I’m not sitting back and patting myself on the back. I’m going after it every week to keep improving and giving everything I’ve got every time I’m pulling on a shirt.

Where could he improve?: “I think all across the board it could be better, you know. Attack, defence. You know, just give more, be more involved with the ball. You know, make stuff happen. Defence, you know, like I said earlier, get good line speed.

“Talk to your mates, communicate, be aggressive. That’s part of my job role. No one’s perfect and I’m not. I’m far from it. I’ve got massive improvement in me.

Asked about potential for England? :

“Yeah, that comes with being consistent. You can’t just have two or three good games as a flash in the pan, then not do anything for six or seven games and then have another good game. It doesn’t work like that.

“The best players play consistent eight, nines, tens, that, ten every week. So that’s what I’m aiming for. And that comes with hard work.

“The effort areas in the game, I mean, trying to be big on mine, big effort areas and then on the back of that one, you know, we’ve built our way into a game and step up and deliver in offence as well.

“I’ve made no secret I’d love to play rep rugby and that’s what I’m aiming for but that comes with being consistent and that’s what I’m trying to do week by week and I’ll break it down.

Reaching 200 appearances last week

“Yeah, 100%. Very proud to reach 200 appearances. Obviously disappointed with the result and the performance more than anything.

“But on a personal level then yeah, extremely proud. It’s sort of a moment where you look back at your first appearance and then other ones along the way and something to be proud of. But that’s been put to bed now and I’ve celebrated it and had a nice touch from the club. But I’m just ready to make the 201st appearance a good one.

Team Unity/Pride- coming together in spite of injuries

“You need each other. When you’re out in the heat of the battle, you lean on your teammates to get you through it. This is no different when you’ve got injuries.

“Whoever comes in, we’re going to help them out and they’re going to help us out. They’re going to add some fresh dynamic to us and we’re going to help them. You lean on your teammates and your coaching staff.

“I’m very proud to be at this club and we’ve got a great staff, very family-orientated club. We’re all in it together, regardless of the injury situation, everyone’s in it together. We’re all in it together when we were winning and went on a run. We’re all in it now when we’ve lost four on the bounce.

Fans are amazing

“Yeah well that’s you know that’s a massive you know we want to repay our fans. They come home and away every single week.

“I mean there was over a thousand fans in France it was just unbelievable the atmosphere there.

“When we come out for warm-up I can hear everyone singing Red Red Robin and you’re in France, you’re thinking what is going on here?

“It’s it’s awesome, so to repay our fans to get to any semi-final and a final that’s massive motivation for us.

“It’s something we speak about as a club. We want to repay the fans because at the end of the day they put their arms in their pockets and follow us and follow us up and down the country and not in this country, in France as well. To repay them is very high on the list of motivators.

“I went to Perpignan on Friday and bumped into that many KR fans. It was just unbelievable. And then, like I said, we come out for warm-up. It’s a hostile environment in Perpignan and I could hear the Red Robin being sung behind the post. I was thinking, oh my God, how good is this?

“We owe the fans big time. They put their hands in their pockets and follow us up and down the country. I love it when we play at home as well. The stadium is absolutely rocking and the support that we have at home is second to none.

Potential for England

“I think if the time ever comes, then the time will come. And if it doesn’t, it doesn’t, but I’m still going to, I’m not going to change what I do.

“So I’d love to be there, don’t get me wrong and it’s an ambition I have but in terms of knowing how close you are I don’t know how you’d know, or how you look at that and think if you’re really close or I might be really far away I have no idea.

Has/Will his role change in the spine to try and be more attacking given that he’s a ball playing 13 and there’s injuries

“Yeah just business as usual I think. I try and do that every week and I’m not going to try too hard because then it’s going to probably take me away from what I do well for the team.

“So I’ll just try and do what my role is and what I’m good at, I suppose. I’m not going to try and do something I’m not good at or try and work too hard because then I’ll probably have a negative effect.

“So I think if everyone executes their own job, that’s what we need, that’s what everyone is looking for. So if people try and start going out of their job description then it could have a negative effect.

“I think whoever comes into the side is capable of doing their job and we’re confident in them. You don’t have to look after someone while you’re out there. Whoever’s playing for our team on Saturday and in weeks gone by are very capable and quality players.

“So, to answer your question, no, I’m just going to do my own job and that’s not changed from the start of the year till now.

His playmaking style

“It’s not something I’ve worked on but it’s probably probably it goes back to that being consistent.

“I want to be more of that, I want to do more of that and that’s not something that has been instructed to me to do that or something I’ve thought about.

“I think me being involved in a game is only good for me and hopefully for the team. So that goes back to the consistency side of things

“When I get my hands on the ball, I feel like that’s when I’m at my best. So if I can do that more often and do it more consistently throughout the 80 minutes, hopefully we score some tries like that one you mentioned against Wigan.

“But no, it’s not sort of an instruction or I haven’t been told to do anything different. Just do more of it.”