Brisbane-bound utility Anthony Milford is expected to put in a big year at fullback in his last season at the Raiders, according to club captain Terry Campese.
The fact Milford has already signed on to join Brisbane in 2015 won't be a distraction, Campese said, tipping the breakout star of 2013 to cement the fullback position in his final year at the club.
"This happens all the time in football, it's a professional sport. His decision was family-based, you can't hold that against people, it's about getting out there and playing football," Campese told reporters as the Raiders returned to training on Thursday.
"He wants to make this a big year, he wants to play Origin, he's going to put his best foot forward with the team and the players are excited to play with him."
"He can do some great things for the club this year." - Terry Campese
Campese said he wasn't at all concerned the club may not get the best out of a player who may already be turning his thoughts to his future up north.
"He's a footballer, footballers are competitive and when they get out on the football field they want to win games," he said. "It's no different with Tone – he's a competitor, he wants to win and I can't wait to play alongside him again this year."
Campese described Milford as an "exciting talent", pointing to a couple of Man of the Match awards the 19-year-old won playing fullback for Samoa at the recent World Cup.
"The display that he showed the team last year out on the field... he's the Meninga Medallist [the award for the Raiders player of the year], he's still a young kid with a lot to learn, he can do some great things for the club this year," Campese said.
With Campese fit and set to start the season at five-eighth and playmaker Josh McCrone most likely to wear the number 7, Milford seems destined to continue in the fullback role where he caused havoc in 2013.
"We haven't run through too many positions as yet, I think Ricky will tinker with a few different combinations come the trials and make his decision then. He's definitely a half for the future, but at fullback he can learn a lot. He showed last year, he did win the Meninga Medal when he played fullback so he might be still at the back."
Those thoughts were shared by Milford, who said he wanted to improve on his 2013 debut season and put himself in the frame for a Maroon jersey.
"One of the goals this year is to try and put on the maroon jersey eventually but I'll just let my footy do the talking week to week," Milford said.
Long term he said he'd like to end up in the halves but last year really enjoyed his time at the back, especially for Samoa in the World Cup.
"I'm happy at the back, I've tried to learn that role, for now I'm happy where I am. Wherever Ricky wants me, I just want to be in the 17," he said.
Quizzed about an immediate future in the halves, Milford added: "That will come down to injuries, we've got Campo and Macca [Josh McCrone] there, they've got a good combo so you wouldn't want to break that up."