Belcher: Milford will be a 'better man'
The decision to see out his contract with the Raiders will prove to be the making of young superstar Anthony Milford according to former Canberra and Queensland great Gary Belcher.
The tug-o-war for the services of Milford in 2014 was finally resolved on Wednesday morning with the Raiders trumpeting the news that he would see out the final year of his contract while the Broncos announced shortly thereafter that they had their man for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
The suggestion that Milford would sit out the season altogether if not granted a release by the Raiders on compassionate grounds has been resolved and Belcher believes fulfilling his commitment will make him a better player and person.
"He'll be a much better man for it when he ends his career with the Raiders and he leaves with his head held high."
Belcher, who played 148 games for the Raiders across eight seasons, was himself approached by Brisbane upon their entry into the competition in 1988 and fought through difficult personal circumstances to honour his contract at Canberra.
"I do feel for young Milford and I'm sure he's got an exceptional case but every person who has ever moved away from home has got a story about being homesick and you have to find a way to handle it," Belcher told NRL.com.
"My wife's mum wasn't well [when we moved from Brisbane to Canberra] and we actually lost her in our second year down there so it was really tough.
"I got asked to come home by the Broncos as they were coming into the comp in '88 but I'd committed to the Raiders and I wanted to see that out.
"I really could relate to what he was going through but I knew the best thing for him and for everyone was to stick by his commitment.
"He's a great player and will be fantastic for the Broncos, unfortunately for the Raiders, but sanity has prevailed and he's going to stick out his contract. He'll be a much better man for it when he ends his career with the Raiders and he leaves with his head held high."
In his role with Fox Sports Belcher was openly critical of the manoeuvring that was taking place to get Milford out of the final year of his contract but is confident that Raiders coach Ricky Stuart will see the best of him now that his future is decided.
"He's got a lot to play for," Belcher said. "He's got a future in State of Origin, perhaps not immediately but who knows what happens with injuries and the like, but I think down the track that will be a strong possibility for him. That utility role is Daly Cherry-Evans's at the moment and we'll have to see what Benny Barba is going to do whether he is back and firing but he's got a lot of reasons to play well.
"I think it's not just [good news] for Canberra but every CEO in the comp will be breathing a sigh of relief in a way. It was just starting to get a bit out of hand players crying homesick and wanting to get out of their contracts. It could have become a worrying trend."
The addition of Milford from 2015 to a roster that will also include Ben Barba is a salivating prospect for Broncos fans and further recognition that the club needed to be more aggressive in the player market to remain competitive.
"They really have dropped the ball with their development/recruitment, something has gone wrong the past few years, so getting Barba and then Milford next year is a step in the right direction," Belcher said.
"One of them is obviously not going to play fullback so one of them will be in the front line and that could be an issue as they are both small players but a lot can happen between now and then."