Milford poised for Samoa return
England and Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett will let star five-eighth Anthony Milford play for Samoa in the country's May 6 Test match against the English.
Milford is yet to decide if he wants to play or not, but if he does it means the Bennett-Milford combination that almost guided the Broncos to a premiership in 2015 will turn to a rivalry for 80 minutes when Samoa take on England at Campbelltown Stadium.
The decision to let Milford play comes after Bennett last year made a call that prevented the No.6 from representing Samoa, with the coach taking it upon himself to rule Milford ineligible.
But 12 months later Bennett has had a change of heart and Milford is set to represent Samoa for the first time since the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.
Although born in Australia, Milford's Samoan heritage means he can pull on the blue and white jersey of Toa Samoa.
Because Samoa isn't a top tier nation, Milford is still eligible to represent the Queensland Maroons in State of Origin football after an eligibility overhaul late in 2016.
Under these revised eligibility rules, players can nominate a tier-one nation – Australia, New Zealand or England – and a second-tier nation.
This means Milford can represent Australia in the future if Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga deems the 22-year-old good enough.
It's a win-win situation for Milford, and Bennett will back his No.6 if he decides to play in the upcoming Test.
"We'll lose a lot of players with all the nations that are playing [in that weekend]. There's also the City-Country game," Bennett said.
"Anthony hasn't let me know what he's doing with Samoa, but I'm happy for any of our players to represent their country as long as they aren't carrying an injury.
"I've left it up to them. If Anthony says he doesn't want to play for Samoa then I'll back him.
"He's a four-year NRL player now so he's probably in a better position than he's ever been in to play."
Appointed coach of England in 2016, Bennett has enjoyed his time trying to bring the best out of the nation ranked third in the world.
Juggling club and international commitments isn't an easy task, but the 67-year-old said the English staff and players have made the job easier.
"I've enjoyed what I've done with them. They've been great to work with," he said.
"I'm looking forward to getting on with it next week.
"They've got three or four key players injured at the moment, but they've still got some quality players there.
"They were all great to work with during the Four Nations."
Bennett's side finished third in that tournament and one name that featured heavily in all three of England's games was South Sydney Rabbitohs front-rower George Burgess.
Burgess this week copped a four-game suspension for a shoulder charge on Milford in South Sydney's one-point loss to the Broncos in Round 8.
It's prevented the prop from being selected in the upcoming Test match – a huge price to play for a brain explosion.
It's why the Rabbitohs have requested that one game of his suspension include the Test match he is now ineligible for, and Bennett has agreed.
"George Burgess's suspension should include the upcoming international match because he was in the squad and set to play," he said.
"There was no point announcing it because he's suspended. It's legitimate.
"He was there in the squad and he played in the Four Nations last year."