Milford made call on test
Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett says it was playmaker Anthony Milford's decision, not his, to reject the possibility of playing for Samoa in next week's Pacific Test match against Tonga at Pirtek Stadium.
Milford's Samoan descent means that he is eligible to be selected for either Samoa or Australia, with Australia being his country of origin and first preference.
It was believed Milford would be selected for Samoa after Australian Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga overlooked the 21-year-old when picking his side for Friday's Trans-Tasman clash in Newcastle.
This opened the door for Milford to make his fifth appearance in Samoan colours and the Souths junior was set to be the first picked in Samoan national coach Matt Parish's team.
But reports emerged earlier in the week that Bennett was taking it upon himself to declare Milford unavailable for Samoan selection, with the master coach not wanting to risk his star five-eighth.
It's a stance that has confused many, with Bennett vocally throwing his support behind minnow nations in the past.
Bennett today defended his decision and confirmed that Milford will not be linking up with the Samoan team.
"I don't want to get into a debate about it. The rules are pretty rubbery and while they remain like that there will always be moments like this where players might be eligible to play, but they won't take part in it," Bennett said.
"The point with Anthony is that he wants to play for Queensland and Australia. That's his choice and he's made that decision.
"There are no injuries holding him back from representing Samoa.
"The decisions made and done. I have nothing else to add."
Despite the distractions, Bennett's mind is firmly set on Sunday's clash with the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
The Broncos have had both injury and suspension to deal with this week, with the club confirming that Herman Ese'ese will come onto the bench to replace the suspended Adam Blair.
Sam Thaiday will start at prop in place of Blair and although Kodi Nikorima is named at hooker to replace the injured Andrew McCullough, the club has not ruled out the possibility of bench utility Travis Waddell starting in his place.
The disruptive preparations leave Brisbane vulnerable as they head into a top of the table clash with a Sharks side that has impressed so far this season.
"They are playing pretty good football and are in the top four. They'll be pretty keen to beat us and they'll be in front of their home crowd so that will create its own challenges for us," Bennett said.
"Cronulla are a much better team than they were last year. We are all trying to be better and they've managed to do that with the quality players they have.
"We are always confident about who we put in the team so it's no different without 'Macca' and Adam.
"Those two have played really well for us and they do a great job, but now it's time for the other guys to come up and take their opportunities."