Bronco Mills waiting in wings
First he was a Shark circling the NRL waters of the Sutherland Shire for three seasons, but an off-season marine metamorphosis has seen former Cronulla utility back Stewart Mills swim north of the border to turn the blue and white of the Sharks into the red and white of the Redcliffe Dolphins.
However, in somewhat of an evolutionary mismatch, the ultimate goal for the Dolphins' fullback still lies in a final transformation into a Brisbane Bronco.
Leaving the murky waters of a Sharks side tangled up in the ASADA investigation and signing a one-year deal with the Broncos, the 22-year-old says he is willing to bide his time on the Redcliffe Peninsula representing the locals in the Intrust Super Cup as he targets a return to the NRL arena.
The Dolphins this week travel to Mackay to face a desperate Cutters outfit trying to rediscover the form that took them all the way to the premiership in 2013. It's one of a number of fascinating fixtures in Round 8 with the Capras kicking things off on Thursday night when they host Wynnum, Ipswich welcome the undefeated Northern Pride to North Ipswich Reserve, there's an Easter Sunday Brisbane quinella with Easts playing Burleigh and Norths taking on Souths Logan and in the Channel Nine match of the day, the PNG Hunters play the Falcons on the Sunshine Coast.
There are a host of NRL stars and those looking to earn contracts across the Intrust Super Cup at present and Mills knows that he must continue to contribute to the Dolphins if the call-up to the Broncos is to come in future.
"At the moment I'm just staying patient with it," Mills said.
"If I can just train hard, play a little harder and [then] hopefully things fall into place and I can get a couple of games and show them (the Broncos) what I've got."
After scoring a try in a memorable debut as a 19-year-old in Round 10, 2011 against the Roosters, the Yarrawarrah Tigers' junior is looking to add to his 16 NRL appearances with the Broncos and is hoping to use his utility value to snare a position in Brisbane's backline which has stuttered in recent weeks.
Mills has scored two tries so far in the Intrust Super Cup and although normally a winger, he lined up at fullback in Redcliffe's comfortable 34-6 win over Souths Logan over the weekend. He can also play in the centres and with Justin Hodges' recent return from injury and fullback Ben Barba's arrival from Canterbury, the best opportunity for Mills to break into the Broncos team lies on the wing.
Daniel Vidot and Dale Copley are the current Broncos' wingers, with Lachlan Maranta also filling in out wide earlier in the season. Although he doesn’t wish injury or suspension upon any of his fellow outside backs, Mills remains optimistic that he isn't too far down the pecking order at Red Hill.
"I'd have to be in there for some chance. There are a couple of fellas [such as] Lachie Maranta, and he's probably next in line for the wing spot," he said.
"So I'm just going to stay patient with it and hopefully get a spot."