Anthony Milford will take the field for the Broncos at the NRL Nines in Perth in the best shape of his career after thriving during one of the few full pre-seasons of his career.
Milford, who will return to five-eighth after a short-lived experiment at fullback last year, played his best football at the Broncos in 2015 and 2016 before battling his way through the past few seasons with shoulder issues.
In November of 2018 former Broncos assistant coach Jason Demetriou revealed to NRL.com that Milford had played the knockout semi-final against the Dragons with a dislocated shoulder. He subsequently had surgery and had a shortened pre-season.
At the end of 2017 Milford also had off-season surgery on his shoulder after playing through that season under duress, but coach Anthony Seibold said those trials and tribulations were all behind him.
"His body composition is the best it has been since he’s been in Brisbane he tells me," Seibold said.
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"He told me the other day that he’s hardly ever had a pre-season. He’s had some shoulder operations and rep football so this is his first proper full pre-season in a long time, and one thing I know about pre-seasons is that they can set you up for a really good season.
"He is no longer in the extras group and is working really hard. Milly needed to come in and work hard to get better physically from a footy point of view.
"I feel as though he is much more consistent with his training and has got himself in a really good position to have a good season.”
Milford’s elusive running game and speed is perfectly suited to the Nines format and Seibold has already had a glimpse of what he has to offer.
"We did some mock games against the Queensland Reds before Christmas and Milly was almost untouchable there so he is looking forward to getting some space," Seibold said.
"He wants to play footy and is looking forward to it after he told me he’d played Nines before. He told me that he hasn’t been in the shape he’s in at the moment when he’s gone and played the Nines."
Seibold said he had been impressed with Milford’s combination with halves Brodie Croft and Tom Dearden at training.
The Broncos coach said he was likely to unveil his starting 13 for the round-one clash with the Cowboys a fortnight earlier in the final trial against the Titans in Redcliffe on February 29.
Milford and Croft are set to be the halves while Jake Turpin and Andrew McCullough will fight it out for the starting hooker’s spot. Jamayne Isaako is in line to be the new fullback but he won’t have it all his own way.
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"Jamayne is learning his craft as a fullback and he has a lot of attributes that you like in a player, particularly from an attacking point of view," Seibold said.
"He is fast, elusive and can break tackles and is working very hard on his catch/pass out the back of shape. He has played Test footy and the last two seasons in first grade.
"We have a bit of competition [at fullback] Jesse Arthars is tracking pretty good and Jack Bird has been doing quite a few reps at fullback as well."