Broncos better placed for Origin: Milford
Brisbane five-eighth Anthony Milford believes the Broncos are in a better position as they head into the State of Origin period than they were than 12 months ago.
After 10 rounds the Broncos have a 7-3 record and one more loss to their name than they had this time in 2016, but it's the depth in the Broncos' squad that has the five-eighth excited.
Off-season recruits David Mead and Tautau Moga have bolstered Brisbane's backline stocks, with the likes of 2016 Broncos Rookie of the Year Tom Opacic and flying winger Jonus Pearson both struggling to get a game due to the talent available at Wayne Bennett's disposal.
A fringe first-grader in 2016, prop Herman Ese'ese has become twice the player he was last year, forcing his way into the starting side through determination and a superb work ethic.
Former Newcastle Knight Korbin Sims is thriving in his first season at the Broncos and while Origin might be out of reach, Sims will play a vital part in Brisbane's forward pack when the likes of Josh McGuire, Sam Thaiday and Matt Gillett leave for Queensland Maroons duty.
Young forwards Jai Arrow, Tevita Pangai Junior, Joe Ofahengaue and Jaydn Su'A are all ready to step up and are developing well with another pre-season under their belts.
Bennett is also in the process of blooding George Fai, with the young lock firmly in contention to get his first minutes in the NRL after making his club debut in the World Club Series at the start of the year.
All these factors are contributing to Milford's optimistic mindset and the 22-year-old is positive his side will have better mid-season form than the disappointing patch they experienced in 2016.
It was between Round 11 and Round 21 that the Broncos' season derailed last year, with the side losing seven out of nine matches.
It proved costly as Brisbane went on to miss out on a top-four position by just one win, a fact not lost on Milford.
"We do (feel like we are in a better position). We have some good players and a few new fresh faces that have added a lot of depth," Milford said.
"As well as that, we have some young props that will stand up when the boys go through the Origin period.
"It's a really exciting time so I'm looking forward to it.
"I'd love to play Origin and I'd be lying if I said I didn't, but first foremost I'm here for the Broncos.
"We want to be playing our best footy during that Origin period. We weren't so good at that last year.
"It's a tough period for the club so hopefully we can get through that."
With the Origin period officially kicking off next week, a win against the Wests Tigers on Friday night becomes even more important.
It would make it six wins a row for the Broncos, continuing the momentum they have worked so hard for over the past six weeks of the season.
A confident Milford said a fast start would be vital this week after his side gave away 14 points in the first 10 minutes of their 24-14 win over the Manly Sea Eagles in Round 10
"There are a lot of similarities between us and the Tigers. We both do a lot of off-the-cuff stuff," he said.
"We still have some structures that we play to but a lot of it is playing what you see.
"We just need to be on our game for the full 80 minutes and get a good start early... Well at least a better start than last week."