Milford ruled out of World Cup
Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett says Anthony Milford is no chance of playing for either Australia or Samoa in this year's Rugby League World Cup.
 Telstra Premiership - Round 26: Cowboys vs Broncos
Eligible for both countries, Milford will instead be forced to have surgery on his injured shoulder after dislocating it during Brisbane's six-point win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs in Round 14.
He returned to the Broncos side in Round 19 and has played injured since, battling through the pain to try and end Brisbane's 11-year premiership drought.
The 23-year-old was prepared to continue playing in discomfort after the NRL season had finished, desperate to represent his country on the world stage.
But Bennett has quashed any such thought, saying his star five-eighth will be in for surgery as soon the Broncos' season finishes.
"[Playing] at the World Cup? Yeah that's Milford's idea of getting out of surgery. He's no chance," Bennett said.
"I'm happy for him to play but he knows what has to happen and I know what has to happen.
"Our intentions are for him to have surgery when the season is over. There is no alternative to that. There's no grey area."
Milford will instead have to settle for finals football, with his Broncos team well placed to go deep into September.
Brisbane will play the North Queensland Cowboys on Thursday night and a victory would mean the Broncos would finish the regular season in no lower than third position.
Although Brisbane have lost prop Korbin Sims for the season with a fractured arm, they have been bolstered by the return of two young enforcers who shape as key figures in the local derby.
Tevita Pangai Junior and Joe Ofahengaue are back and ready to take it to hulking Cowboys lock Jason Taumalolo, and Bennett has full faith that these two will step up in Sims's absence and match it with North Queensland's pack.
"We have Joe back and Tevita back. They have been playing well for us and we have a pretty good bench there," he said.
"Jai Arrow has been really good for us and he's 18th man. We have a bit of coverage. We are in good shape."
In a first for the year, Brisbane utility Ben Hunt will start the match at hooker, with Bennett hoping the crafty playmaker can play out the 80 minutes.
"It is ideal for me because Ben is the best player we have to play hooker. I'd rather have him out there for 80 minutes than 60 minutes," he said.
"We had to work him into the position. I want the best players on the field to start the game and he is the best player in that position. That's why he's there now. We just had to take our time with it."
Second-row forward Alex Glenn failed to train on Wednesday because of groin soreness but he is expected to play.