Milford confident shoulder will hold up all season
Anthony Milford is confident his shoulder is strong and ready for the rigours of a new NRL season and can pinpoint the moment when he knew that was the case.
The Brisbane Broncos five-eighth had shoulder surgery in the off-season and is set to take on the St George Illawarra Dragons in the season opener on Thursday at Kogarah Oval.
He's had just 40 minutes of game time in the pre-season, all in the trial with the PNG Hunters in Port Moresby.
With one of his first touches, the Broncos got a penalty a few metres out from their line. It was then and there Milford faced his moment of truth.
"I went to kick it out, I took as much time as I could and aimed for too much, and their fullback knocked it back in to the winger who bee-lined straight for me," Milford told NRL.com.
"There was no better way to test out the shoulder than have one of those big PNG boys run 30 metres straight at me.
"I held my own, and after that shot I grew in confidence from there.
"I was a bit worried going into the game, to be honest. I was just nervous about the shoulder but after that tackle, I was sweet. It was pretty cool from then on."
Last year, Milford dislocated his shoulder against the Rabbitohs and missed a month of football. At the time, coach Wayne Bennett said he would definitely need surgery, and advice from specialists suggested he was a 50-50 chance of getting through the year without it.
What Bennett said next highlighted how important Milford is to the Brisbane side
"He will have some surgery…hopefully at the end of the year. He’s such an important part of what we do, so it’s worth a shot," Bennett said.
"We have got nothing to lose so we may as well give it a go and see how Anthony handles it.”
Milford played the season out and had his surgery at the end of it, ruling him out of World Cup calculations.
His efforts in doing so highlighted his courage and commitment to the club.
"In every game last year after the injury, I was very, very sore and I was kind of looked after in the gym with all my strength programs just because of it," Milford said.
"After a game, it would take two or three days for it to calm down, but I had to put the team first and keep going.
"I thought we had a real shot last year, but we just fell short against Melbourne."
After rehabbing his shoulder and a solid pre-season of training, Milford said he was feeling as good as he ever had ahead of a new season.
"I feels heaps better. That was my best pre-season yet," he said.
"I’m fit and healthy and having my shoulder surgery has pushed me a lot harder.
"I’ve just wanted to chase round one, obviously, knuckle down and make sure it doesn’t happen again, and I have enjoyed the challenge.
"With the strength programs, in the gym and everything our strength conditioners and physios have made me do, I’ve tried to do it to the best of my abilities.
"I have done everything they asked of me and I am looking forward to round one now."