Broncos confident of keeping Milford
The Brisbane Broncos are hopeful they will retain the services of off-contract star Anthony Milford, but concede they will not be entering a bidding war with rival clubs for the young five-eighth's signature.
It would be a disaster for the Broncos to lose Milford after the news at the start of the season that halfback Ben Hunt would be leaving the club at the end of 2017.
In a move that took Brisbane by surprise, Hunt signed a six-year deal with the St. George Illawarra Dragons in January.
A key piece of coach Wayne Bennett's premiership puzzle, replacing Hunt is hard enough, but it will become an almost impossible task if Milford decides to leave Red Hill at season's end.
If Brisbane were to lose their five-eighth and halfback in the same season it would massively destabilise the playing group, with arguably two of the most important positions on the field left vacant for 2018.
But Broncos CEO Paul White is confident that won't happen, saying the club is working hard behind the scenes to extend Milford's contract as soon as possible.
"We're very hopeful [of retaining Milford]. These things are never easy processes, particularly when they are a marquee player," White said.
"We've worked extremely hard through this negotiation process to make sure Anthony remains at this club.
"Anthony will play his game on the weekend (for Samoa) and then hopefully we'll be in a position to make an announcement early next week."
That announcement can't come soon enough for the Broncos as clubs such as the Melbourne Storm table their offers to Milford's management.
But White has told Brisbane's fan base not to worry, insisting Milford's signature is top priority after missing out on the re-signing of Hunt.
"Yeah, [losing Hunt] certainly makes it [more important]. Both of those guys were a priority for us but unfortunately we lost Hunt because the opportunity elsewhere was too great," he said.
"We were disappointed with that but we handled that news well as a club.
"We supported Ben throughout the process, both pre and post.
"We'll continue to support Anthony through this process. He is a priority for us."
 Telstra Premiership: Anthony Milford
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However, the Broncos have conceded that they do not have the room in their salary cap that other clubs have.
Therefore their offer will not match that of their rivals, but instead Brisbane hopes other incentives will get them over the line.
"You'll never hear me use the term bidding war because we see it being much more than money," White said of Milford's contract negotiations.
"If it was just simply lobbing a contract on the table then I think there would be clubs with more financial resources and more space in their cap that could outplay our hand there.
"That's why it's important as a club that we have our minds broader than what our players do on the football field. That's important, but when we look at our players we look at the person behind it as well.
"We look to run a club and run a business that will offer opportunities to players on and off the field."