Milford has struggled to convince he is the man Brisbane need. Image: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images
Milford has struggled to convince he is the man Brisbane need. Image: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Milford was worth every cent

BRONCOS boss Paul White has hit back at Anthony Milford's detractors and insists Brisbane's decision to hand him the club's first $1 million contract at the expense of Ben Hunt will be vindicated.

On the eve of Friday night's crucial Broncos-Manly Magic Round clash at Suncorp Stadium, White rejected suggestions Brisbane made a recruitment blunder by handing Milford the richest deal in the club's 31-year history.

The Broncos confronted one of their most vexing retention decisions two years ago when a $6 million poaching raid from St George Illawarra threatened to split their Milford-Hunt scrumbase alliance.

Brisbane refused to get into a bidding war and allowed Hunt to join the Red V, instead backing Milford to become the first five-eighth to steer the Broncos to a premiership since Darren Lockyer in 2006.

Since being handed a four-year, $4 million deal in 2017, Milford has been pilloried for his inconsistency, but White is adamant the maligned pivot will prove a successful long-term investment.

"It was the right call to sign Anthony Milford," White said.

"If we won that grand final in 2015, Anthony would have got the Clive Churchill medal, he was the best player on the park that night.

"No one was criticising us for signing Anthony Milford at the time we gave him his new contract.

Brisbane are standing by their decision to keep Milford. Image: AAP Image/Dave Hunt
Brisbane are standing by their decision to keep Milford. Image: AAP Image/Dave Hunt

"Anthony has copped some criticism but this period in 'Milf's' career will help him.

"He is now through the initial period of his career and I see how hard he is working at training every day.

"Anthony has total support from the Broncos."

Twenty-four hours after Milford takes on Manly, Dragons halfback Hunt will run onto Suncorp Stadium to face the man who once succeeded him at Red Hill, Warriors recruit Kodi Nikorima.

Since Hunt joined the Dragons last year, the Queensland Origin utility has been more consistent than Milford, but White has no regrets about Brisbane's retention call.

How long does Milford need to fulfil his potential?
How long does Milford need to fulfil his potential?

"If we had our time over again, we would make the same decision with Anthony and Ben," White said.

"We never wanted to lose Ben Hunt, but we simply couldn't match the money the Dragons paid for him and we had to make a judgment call.

"If you rationalise the money Ben was offered to leave and what we could afford to keep him and Milford in the squad, we'd have to make the same decision again."

Milford forged a new scrumbase alliance with debutant Tom Dearden in last week's 38-6 loss to Souths and says he is ready to step-up to help his 18-year-old halfback cohort.

"I am trying to take on more of a leadership role and it's important I help Tom now," Milford said.

"Tom is very confident for a young guy. He isn't afraid to put his body on the line and his kicking game is very good. I think we can build a good combination.

"The challenge for me is to be more consistent and I'm aware of that. I need to be better week to week and bridge that gap between my best and worst games."

News Corp Australia


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