Nikorima and Milford safe despite slow start
They have created no line breaks and no tries this year but Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett insists he will persist with Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima in the halves this season.
Bennett has also ruled out a switch of Darius Boyd from fullback to five-eighth.
According to data from NRL.com Stats, there is a huge gap in creativity in the Milford/Nikorima combination when compared to Gareth Widdop and Ben Hunt, who have propelled St George Illawarra to the top of the ladder.
Widdop has eight line break assists and nine try assists in four Telstra Premiership games while Hunt has four line break assists and five try assists.
Milford and Nikorima have a big, fat zero in both key performance measures.
The make-up of the Broncos halves has been a hot topic with former Broncos captains Gorden Tallis and Wally Lewis calling for change. Tallis has suggested fullback Boyd play at five-eighth with Lewis calling for Milford return to the fullback position where he started his NRL career at Canberra.
Bennett made it clear on Friday that he was sticking with his halves combination.
"I believe those two guys in the halves can get the job done," he said.
"They have got the job done for us in the past and they’ll get it done for us in the future. I am not going to the market."
Bennett said halves were "ineffective" when the forwards weren't at their best, as has been the case with Brisbane, and added that the side's ball control had not helped Nikorima or Milford.
“Halfbacks can’t play with the football when they don’t have it," he said.
Bennett also explained why he had ruled out Boyd playing at number six.
“If you know football and watch Darius play the one thing he can’t play is at six," he said.
"He might play first receiver standing there and passing the ball but he is not that creative player you need in the halfback position. It is not his natural game."
Broncos legend and NRL.com columnist Steve Renouf said the Brisbane halves should be given more time, but suggested Boyd could be utilised more in a playmaking role in the wake of another disjointed display in the 26-14 loss to Gold Coast.
"When Darius comes in as the third ball player and throws a face ball to the winger it works all the time so I'd like to see them concentrate more on using him in that space," Renouf said.
"I don't think he should be a regular six yet, although I don't discount it down the track because he wouldn’t have to stretch out with his hamstrings as much as he does at fullback where I don’t think he's been at full throttle yet."
Boyd told NRL.com that fullback was his best position and he'd had no conversations with Bennett about moving to five-eighth long-term.
He said he was not opposed to playing five-eighth in the future, but added for now it would be a case of playing a more creative role from the back.
"If there is a time when one of the halves gets tackled I don’t mind going down the short side and playing a four on three in the second five-eighth role anyway," he said.
"I’ve never played a lot of five-eighth but if I got the opportunity I’d take it with both hands. I don’t mind the role. I am one of the more dominant players in the team so talking and organising would come naturally. It is just the kicking side I’d have to work on.
"As a spine, we can definitely improve. It is going to take a bit of time because we had an interrupted pre-season.
“Milf, with his shoulder, was in and out of things and only played the last trial…with myself and Andrew McCullough not training with the group a lot due to [a hamstring and knee] injury."