Broncos fullback Anthony Milford says an ongoing knee issue shouldn't stop him from captaining Samoa in the upcoming World Nines at Bankwest Stadium.
The veteran of seven Tests for Toa Samoa – the last two of those as captain – will be unveiled as skipper once again for the October 18-19 tournament, fitness pending.
Milford went off late in his team's round 15 loss to Newcastle with a knee injury, listed by the club as a left lateral meniscus injury. While he was initially expected to be out indefinitely, he missed just one game and has since been in terrific form at fullback since switching positions with club captain and now five-eighth Darius Boyd.
"I think I should be sweet," Milford told NRL.om.
"I wouldn't say I'm putting off surgery. I'm just making sure I'm doing everything I can to make sure I'm playing the best I can and managing my injuries as well."
While he couldn't reveal too many team selections, he said he had been in contact with coach Matt Parish.
"I've spoken to Matt a few times about our team, he hasn't gone into detail," Milford added.
"This is another stepping stone towards our Test match against Fiji.
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"It is [a privilege to be captain], you obviously want to play your best and make sure you're leaving everything out there on the field. A little bit more responsibility but that's just part and parcel of being captain."
Milford has played the Nines format previously in the Auckland Nines for Brisbane; while the free-flowing style suits speedsters and off-the-cuff players, mobile and versatile forwards have proved key and Milford hoped to have the services of budding Dragons star Luciano Leilua for the tournament.
"The one I'm excited to see is not so much but what our backs can do but our second rowers and the bigger guys, seeing them in open space. I think you'll see a lot of free flowing footy and a lot of throwing the ball around," he said.
"One guy I'm looking forward to seeing if he does make the team is Luciano, he's real skilful with the ball and he's got real silky hands as well.
"With the Nines you won't have too much worrying about what positions everyone's playing, just making sure on every play we're competing all the time and if a break does happen we try and finish it off."
Milford hoped the reduced format would provide a leveller between the dominant nations who play well to structure and get plenty of time together – such as Australia and New Zealand – and bring in the Pacific nations who have boundless skill but fewer chances to get together and build game plans and combinations.
"With the whole Nines concept, it opens up for the other nations to have that football where it's kind of second nature to them and they're able to play carefree footy and throw the ball around, which will suit teams like Samoa, Tonga and Fiji," Milford said.
"It's really good when we get the whole week together and hopefully we get enough time to bond and gel and learn a little bit more about our culture.
"It's a win for rugby league in general, getting all the nations and especially with a Nines tournament, makes it a bit more exciting, it will be pretty cool to see a lot of those boys in open space, off-the-cuff footy."
For ticket and travel packages for the Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s Sydney 2019, head to nrl.com/tickets.