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Milford ready to meet pressure head-on

History looms large at Brisbane but Anthony Milford wants to embrace it so he can one day join the pantheon of club legends.

The Broncos have been given the NRL's toughest assignment – the Storm in Melbourne – to kick-start the 2019 Telstra Premiership on Thursday night.

They've welcomed a new coach in Anthony Seibold but once again it will be how Milford and halves partner Kodi Nikorima perform that determines whether promise is converted into a premiership.

Talk of great halves at Red Hill immediately gets names like Allan Langer, Kevin Walters and Darren Lockyer tossed around, but that's pretty much where it ends.

The unexpected departure of Ben Hunt to the Dragons and the earlier release of Ash Taylor to the Titans created a default halves combination of Milford and Nikorima in 2018.

Nikorima admits he struggled mentally with the constant speculation regarding his position in the team but Milford is adamant they are the ones to bring a seventh premiership to the club.

"I enjoy that expectation and that pressure that comes along with being a Bronco," Milford said.

"I just try and live it every day. We need to be better and I think we will.

Broncos playmaker Kodi Nikorima.
Broncos playmaker Kodi Nikorima. ©NRL Photos

"Kodi obviously went really well at the back-end of that (New Zealand) tour and I think that helped build his confidence. I think he'll roll that into round one.

"Obviously we need to be better and making sure we're leaving a mark on the Broncos. They demand success and I think we're the boys who need to bring it.

"I'll be doing everything in my power to make sure that happens."

Named man-of-the-match in New Zealand's dominant third Test win over England in November, Nikorima returned to training in January and a new coach.

He played a pivotal role in dragging Brisbane back from an 18-0 deficit to defeat the Titans 25-22 in their final trial.

"You'll see the ball in our hands a lot more, especially with our new shape and structures that Seibs has put in place," Nikorima said.

"I will say now that from what I've seen at training I'm pretty confident that we'll be pretty good this year."

Adds Milford: "What's good with the coach is that I think we're going to be a lot more hands-on with the ball which will suit us ball-runners. He'll bring my running game into play a lot more. We're getting our hands on the ball first up instead of playing out the back of our ruck which I think will benefit us and help to bring Kodi and myself into the game."

Kiwis coach Michael Maguire asked Nikorima to take control of the team in order to free up mercurial playmaker Shaun Johnson and he hopes to have a similarly positive influence on Milford.

"He's probably similar to Shaun Johnson in that they can create something out of nothing," Nikorima said.

Brisbane halves Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima.
Brisbane halves Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

"Not saying that I can't do that but they're naturally gifted ball-players and ball-runners so the more time I can be that first receiver and allow Milf to roam will benefit us as a team."

Milford's pre-season was a disrupted one with first a shoulder reconstruction and then a hamstring strain that has restricted his time training with Nikorima.

"Of course it's not ideal but they played together last year so it's not as though Kodi or Anthony Milford have come from a different club and haven't played any games together," Seibold said.

"It would have been good for them to have more reps together at training but the reality of it has been that Kodi toured with New Zealand and didn't come back until early January and Milf was coming back from a shoulder recon."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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