Milford creating his own Broncos history
For close to a decade it has been either a friendship or a rivalry but Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima are now united in bringing the glory days back to the Brisbane Broncos.
A pair of Brisbane juniors who would regularly oppose each other in club football only to come together in representative teams, Milford and Nikorima have helped to inject some attacking spark into a Broncos team boasting plenty of grit.
Milford's signing from the Raiders in the off-season was trumpeted as the club's major coup ahead of the 2015 season but when the pair were both 13 years of age it was Nikorima who Broncos scouts placed their considerable faith in ahead of Milford.
Now five games into his NRL career and having just turned 21, Nikorima recalled fondly the representative teams in which he and Milford played as juniors but insists there was little doubt among the kids who the superstar was in their midst.
"We played Queensland under-16s together and in that game we were meant to play in the halves before Game One [of the 2010 State of Origin Series] but that got cancelled and then we played the third or second game and he was at the back for us," Nikorima said.
"He was a freak talent. I remember him scoring the first try; I think he ran 70 metres. Put on a few steps and then just used the speed that he now shows in the NRL.
"Growing up he was always my main opposition. We were both halves and every time we came up against each other we were always competing.
"I remember one grand final we played, me and 'Frankie' (fellow Bronco Francis Molo and a cousin of Milford's) were at Aspley and he was at Souths Logan and he pretty much single-handedly won them the game.
"That's how good he was and it showed when he went on to Canberra and now here at the Broncs."
Growing up in Inala in Brisbane's south as a mad Broncos fan, Milford can recall a Denan Kemp try from 2008 but had no idea he had helped lift the Broncos to the top of the premiership ladder for the first time in four years.
"Are we on top of the table?" he replied when asked what it meant to help revitalise the Broncos who are now equal favourites to win the minor premiership.
His combination in the halves with Ben Hunt has improved with each game they have played together and gets another thorough examination when they meet the Dragons in Kogarah on Friday night.
Although he admits to having watched highlights of Benji Marshall as a kid, Milford said he remained very much his own man.
"I used to watch highlights of him every now and then but I guess every kid growing up used to think they were Benji Marshall in the streets and things like that. I just wanted to be me," said Milford, who doesn't turn 21 until July 11.
"We're going to watch plenty of video of Benji and Gareth [Widdop] and how they lead their forward pack around the park.
"It will be a good challenge for myself and Benny and we've got to put our best foot forward and try and do the job.
"I'm feeling more comfortable now and the boys are making me feel more confident that I can back my own ability to do those things on the field."
Prior to the 2015 season Milford had not played an NRL game in front of a crowd of more than 20,000 and is enjoying the opportunity to play before more than 35,000 Broncos fans at Suncorp Stadium on a regular basis.
"Around my area around home there are a lot of Broncos supporters there so I get a 'G'day' here and there which is good," the 20-year-old said of the reaction he now gets from Broncos fans.
"That support base is crazy and I'm loving every minute of it. The crowds are really vocal at Suncorp as well which I'm not used to and I'm enjoying every part of it.
"Growing up I remember when [Darren] Lockyer kicked it over for Denan Kemp and he scored in the corner and there was another one there when Shaun Berrigan went over and scored in the corner. There are a lot of memories there but I just loved football growing up.
"I'm very grateful for the opportunity to play for the Broncos and I'm here to take it with two hands and be the best player I can for the boys."