Milford set to miss at least six weeks
Brisbane Broncos five-eighth Anthony Milford is facing at least six weeks on the sidelines after suffering a dislocated shoulder in his side's 24-18 win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Friday night.
Milford left the field eight minutes from full-time after landing awkwardly in an attempt to dive on a loose ball.
The 22-year-old immediately clutched at his left shoulder, with trainers rushing to his aid and escorting him to the dressing sheds.
But Milford was upbeat when leaving Suncorp Stadium after the match, spending at least 20 minutes with fans, even signing and giving his boots away to a young supporter.
However his mood could change quickly with the Queensland Maroons five-eighth set to undergo scans on Saturday, the results of which will determine whether he is out for weeks or months.
Coach Wayne Bennett did not seem confident after the match, admitting Milford could be out for the rest of the season if the scans come back with the worst possible results.
"He's dislocated his shoulder and it's gone back in so it will be a six-week process at least," Bennett said.
"We'll see where he is after that. That will determine whether he can play the rest of the season or if it is season ending."
What is certain is that Milford will be on the sidelines for an extended period time, but luckily for Bennett he does have other options.
Australian international Ben Hunt is currently in reserve grade after being dropped this week and he could easily slot back into the halves, while both Kodi Nikorima and Benji Marshall loom as reliable options for the master coach.
The experienced Marshall addressed the issue after hearing of how serious Milford's injury could be, with the 259-game NRL veteran happy to step in and lead from the front in his absence.
"I'm not sure what the go will be there [now Milford is out]. We still have Hunt who has played a lot of games for the club. We have a few options," Marshall said.
"We are in a place the club hasn't been at in a long time with the amount of depth we have. Kodi is doing well and if I have to step in [and step up] then I will."
Nikorima started in the halves with Milford against the Rabbitohs, putting in a solid performance that included a try assist and 113 kick metres.
But with the prospect of Milford not being there in the coming weeks, Nikorima will want to improve his output and both Marshall and Hunt can bring out the best in him.
It all depends on what Bennett decides, but Nikorima will be happy with either.
"We need to wait and see what the scans say and we will go from there. If it is a shoulder problem then he will be a massive loss for us," Nikorima said.
"In saying that, we have Benji and Hunt there and they can do a job as well. Both are quality players with a lot of experience. It is up to Wayne to make the call."
After being guaranteed the No.7 jersey in 2018 there is no doubt that Nikorima will stay in the halves while Milford is out, but it remains to be seen whether Marshall or Hunt will partner him.
Bennett will have at least a week to think about it, with the Broncos having the bye next weekend.