THEY have a combined age of 72 but arguably there will not be two more competitive players at Stade Gilbert Brutus tonight than rival back-rows Mark Minichiello and Greg Bird.
The gnarled Australian forwards were Gold Coast Titans team-mates for five years before finding themselves charging around Super League.
Minichiello, 37, has won two Challenge Cups with Hull FC while the famously combustible Bird, 35, remains one of Catalans Dragons’ key figures during his second spell in Perpignan.
They will be battling it out against each other this evening and Minichiello knows just what to expect from the former Kangaroos star.
“He doesn’t want to lose at anything whether it’s cards, rugby or whatever,” he said.
“He’ll be fighting, scrapping and trying to cheat his way to a win anyway he can.
He’s a competitor and a great guy to have in your team; you know he’ll put in 100 per cent – he’s pretty similar to me like that.Mark Minichiello
“He’s a competitor and a great guy to have in your team; you know he’ll put in 100 per cent – he’s pretty similar to me like that.
“He’s real tough and doesn’t mind putting his body on the line for you.
“It doesn’t surprise me he’s still going so strong; when you’re like him you do whatever it takes week in, week out, and it’ll be great to go up against him again.”
Catalans became the first team to beat leaders St Helens this term when they won 18-10 in Perpignan last Saturday yet the Challenge Cup holders also lost 42-0 at Wigan the week before and 46-0 at home to Salford Red Devils earlier last month.
Hull, meanwhile, returned to winning ways themselves with Sunday’s hard-fought 23-16 success at Salford Red Devils.
They climbed to fifth, level with unpredictable Catalans, ahead of this round of fixtures.
“It was a good win for us to bounce back from a disappointing loss against Warrington and now we’ll look to continue that,” added Minichiello.
“But we have a lot to overcome to get the two points in France.
“Their side has definitely improved recently and from previous trips I’ve made there. But we’re looking forward to it.”