Broncos plan hatched on plane to PNG
A plan first hatched on a two-hour flight from Cairns to Papua New Guinea will be put into practice on Saturday night when Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford line up for the first time as the Broncos' halves pairing.
Hunt and Milford have been named in a strong 22-man Broncos squad to face the Cowboys in Mackay on Saturday night with North Queensland coach Paul Green also naming plenty of likely Round 1 starters in his squad of 23 players.
Jordan Kahu has been given first crack at Brisbane's fullback position while former Wests Tigers pair Adam Blair and James Gavet have been named in the starting pack in what will be their first hit-outs for their new club.
But most attention will focus on how Hunt and Milford gel in their first outing together in club colours with Hunt revealing their plans to help restore Brisbane as a premiership force began in October on a flight to PNG.
Future club teammates Hunt and Milford were paired together for the Prime Minister's XIII against the Kumuls in Kokopo where they spent the two-hour flight learning more about each other as players and as people.
"We sat together on the plane on the way over which was pretty good for us," Hunt told NRL.com.
"We had a bit of a chat there and he's a little bit of a quiet fella but once you get down with him he doesn't mind having a little chat and talking about things which was good.
"Hopefully over the next couple of weeks we can start to get a bit of a combination together because I'm really excited about the talent he brings to us. Hopefully we can make it work."
Despite their exploits first in the under-20s competition and then in the NRL, Hunt said that he had only met Milford briefly in passing prior to their trip to PNG but said it didn't take long before they began discussing how best to work as a halves pairing.
"I hardly really knew him at all, just a couple of times in passing and played a few games of footy against him but never really knew him that well at all," said Hunt, who also spent a few days with Milford in Queensland's Emerging Origin camp in January.
"He sat down and was pretty keen to get to know how I like to play the game which was pretty exciting for me, that he was interested and I'm just really looking forward to getting stuck into some training with him."
Hunt's performance for the PM's XIII further aided his bid for selection in Australia's Four Nations squad where he went on to play in tests against England, Samoa and New Zealand.
The 24-year-old admitted that there were difficult periods during 2014 when coach Anthony Griffin switched between Ben Barba and Josh Hoffman as his halves partner and is excited to have some certainty about who will be the Broncos' No.6 this season.
"At times it got a difficult. There were a couple of different stages there where they got changed in and out that was a bit frustrating but both the boys who came out and played five-eighth I thought did a pretty good job for us and I just had to do my job really," said Hunt.
"In saying that it's definitely going to be a lot different having a consistent halves partner this year.
"'Milf' likes to have that free reign where he steps back and lets me direct the team around the park a bit more and he can just play his footy which I really enjoy.
"For me it will be about giving him the ball as much as I can and getting him into some open space which is where he plays his best footy and which will be good for us.
"If I can direct us around and he can look up and take his opportunities it will be good for us."