Titans on alert for 'Threat Level Milford'
He is one of the bona fide superstars of the 2016 Telstra Premiership but Titans prop David Shillington still recalls the days when Anthony Milford was merely a precocious teenager with a habit for making first graders look silly.
You would be hard-pressed to find a rugby league fan not prepared to wax lyrical about Milford's talents in the wake of his man-of-the-match performance against the Cowboys last Friday night and he is certainly attracting much of the Titans' attention this week.
Exceeding expectations with a 3-1 start to the season the Titans are expecting to attract their best crowd to Cbus Super Stadium in more than five years on Friday night and the arrival of the Anthony Milford Show to the Gold Coast will only serve to boost numbers further.
Having scored a blistering try of his own in the first half, Milford created a try for James Roberts from deep within his own half to put Brisbane back in front late against the Cowboys and then came up with the clutch 40-metre field goal in extra time to secure the 21-20 victory for his team.
It's not a new phenomenon for Shillington who saw Milford come through the grades at Canberra first-hand and issued his new Titans teammates with a warning on how best to keep him in check.
"I remember him carving us up when he was in under-20s and they were doing opposed versus first grade and we were like, 'Who is this guy?'" Shillington recalled. "It's funny to see him as a genuine superstar now.
"He is so dynamic that if we have players coming out of the line trying to solve problems themselves defensively he's just going to dummy and go or put someone through a gap and potentially link up with James Roberts.
"Last week he was the difference, breaking that tackle of Johnathan Thurston and running most of the way to score so he's going to take a lot of stopping.
"Just keeping a good line on him is going to be the hardest thing. He wants someone to try and shoot out of the line and shut the play down and then he can use his footwork to beat us.
"We've got to stick together there."
With Milford spending much of his time in attack on the Broncos' left side much of the responsibility of presenting a flat defensive line will fall on the shoulders of Titans back-rower Chris McQueen.
In preparation for Friday night the whole squad has already studied Milford closely in video sessions but McQueen said the most important thing was to always expect the unexpected.
"He's so fast and so good on his feet that he can pop up anywhere so we have to be prepared for anything," said McQueen.
"We have to try not to get stuck in our head a certain way that he's going to play because anything could happen.
"You have to have an awareness for the whole game, especially late in the halves when you're getting a bit tired and it would be easy to clock off.
"We've had a look at him and we'll have another look later in the week. A lot of their play comes off him so we definitely have to be aware."