Benji's extras to make Milford great
Benji Marshall has revealed how he has taken Anthony Milford under his wing in order to guide him towards greatness but has hit back at critics who claim that the Broncos five-eighth is overweight.
Now in his third season at the Broncos, Milford lines up against the club that first signed him and brought him up into the NRL when the Raiders travel to Suncorp Stadium for a Friday night blockbuster in Brisbane.
One of the most outstanding talents in the game and reportedly on the verge of signing a big money extension to stay at the Broncos, Milford is a throwback footballer to days when skills and not skinfolds were the measure of a player.
He generates blistering speed off the mark through his big backside and unlike many modern players doesn't possess the washboard abs that have led some to suggest he is not putting in enough effort on the training paddock.
But while Marshall admitted he was working with the 22-year-old on improving some areas of his preparation he said he had been nothing but impressed by Milford's work ethic since joining the club in November.
"They ride him here. He gets ridden here, big time," Marshall told NRL.com.
"I've really taken it upon myself this year to take him under my wing and help him train a bit harder and just learn about doing a few things extra.
"I think he is seeing the benefits of some of that but he doesn't get any special treatment. If he did we'd probably bash him to be honest.
"He actually had a big pre-season. I was pretty impressed with how much he trained.
"He cops a lot of flak from people for how big he looks but he still moves pretty good.
"I could name 15 of the best players that ever played that had the same body. Cameron Smith has got a dog's body, there's heaps of people. You don't have to have a mad body to be able to play.
"I've got no problems with the way he trains, I thought he had a pretty big pre-season. He didn't take any short-cuts that's for sure."
Rather than his physical development, Milford's halves partner Ben Hunt said the biggest change in Milford over the past two seasons has been becoming more comfortable in being heard amongst the playing group.
"There are guys in the NRL that are never going to be ripped and cut, that's just the way their body is," said Hunt.
"I know Corey Parker, he was one of the fittest blokes we ever had in our team and he never had a six pack. That's just the way some people are.
"'Milf' (Milford) just needs to play at a weight where he's comfortable being and what's good for him.
"The biggest thing with him was coming out of his shell and having the courage to tell some older more experienced players where to go.
"He come here still as a young kid and a bit nervous and held back a bit but obviously with each year he gets a bit more outgoing and willing to try things, order the older boys around which you need to do as a half."
Heading into his 56th game in the top grade the best of Anthony Milford is still ahead of us, but he acknowledges that in order to become the best he can be there is still work to be done on his 176-centimetre, 93-kilogram frame.
"It's just putting in the extra yards and doing whatever I can to improve myself," Milford told NRL.com.
"For me to go to the next level and reach my full potential I need to do those things and not shy away from them.
"[Benji] has just pretty much told me to back myself. Whatever happens happens on the field but when instincts take over to just take it and opportunities will come.
"Don't get frustrated and play my own game."