Milford Brisbane-bound, for now
Anthony Milford may be en-route back to Brisbane after the World Cup but his immediate playing future remains unclear following revelations that he has not yet agreed to return to Canberra in 2014.
Milford told the Courier-Mail he was "shocked" that the Raiders had trumpeted news he was set to honour the final year of his contract at the club despite earlier seeking a release on compassionate grounds.
Within the space of an hour on Wednesday the Raiders announced Milford had agreed to don the lime green again in 2014 before the Broncos revealed they had got their man on a two-year deal starting in 2015.
The 19-year-old is heavily featured on both clubs' websites but where he will play next season remains in doubt judging by comments made from Samoa where he was holidaying, the prospect he will have to sit out the season altogether now a possibility.
"I spoke to Ricky (Stuart, Canberra coach) and Don Furner (CEO) last week and they said they wanted me back on December 16 for pre-season training," Milford told the Courier-Mail.
"I haven't given any guarantees. Now all this has come out ... when I get home there will be some conversations going on."
Those conversations are due to happen sooner rather than later, with Milford having left Samoa yesterday on his way back to Brisbane via Auckland, his arrival at Brisbane airport likely to generate the type of publicity normally reserved for A-list Hollywood celebrities.
New Raiders coach Ricky Stuart hit out against the Broncos' inability to develop young talent on Wednesday but Broncos coach Anthony Griffin defended the club's right to be attractive to players hailing from Queensland.
"It has always been an asset of the Broncos because of our Queensland flavour," Griffin said.
"A lot of players leave our state for a chance and then want to return. That was obviously a part of Anthony's decision to come back here.
"The Broncos should always be attractive to Brisbane and Queensland players or we aren't doing our business properly."
Both the Raiders and Broncos declined to comment on the latest revelations when contacted by NRL.com, with the ABC reporting that the Raiders have a written agreement from Milford to play for them in 2014 and that his manager, Sam Ayoub, endorsed Wednesday's media release.
"For [Canberra] to put out a statement, I never expected that to come out," Milford said. "There was no talk of that; I didn't even know they were going to put out a statement."
A Souths Logan junior, Milford was signed to a scholarship by the Raiders as a 13-year-old and made his first grade debut in Round 5 this year, going on to win the Mal Meninga Medal as the club's player of the year.
He made his international debut for Samoa at the World Cup, earning man-of-the-match honours in wins over Papua New Guinea and France and kicking 10 goals during the course of the tournament.