The toughness and resilience of Anthony Milford has come to the fore again for the Broncos with the five-eighth fit to play against the Dragons after returning to action three weeks ahead of schedule.
When Milford suffered a grade two hamstring tear in the 36-26 loss to the Sharks in round 12 he was expected to miss 4-6 weeks but the serious nature of the injury had medicos suggesting it would be at the higher end of the spectrum.
Around-the-clock treatment and dedicated rehab by the 26-year-old has resulted in him getting back early.
It is not the first time that Milford has gone above and beyond for his team.
In 2018 former assistant coach Jason Demetriou made the stunning revelation that Milford had played the semi-final against the Dragons with a dislocated shoulder and that he had played with a torn pec for the final two months of the season.
That dedication has been on show again in the past few weeks.
"Milf will play. He has declared himself fit. He has virtually forced me to pick him with what he has done off the field and has come back a couple of weeks early," said stand-in coach Peter Gentle.
Broncos v Dragons - Round 15
"That is the side that people don’t see of Anthony Milford. He is tough and he really wants to play and help his mates out and that is quite an admirable quality.
"We know where we are on the table and what is in front of us for the next six weeks and for him to bust his backside to get back early instils a lot of confidence in the boys and myself."
Brodie Croft has been dropped but the Milford and Tom Dearden partnership in the halves has Gentle excited.
"They played against Cronulla together and we scored quite a few points that night although we didn’t defend them," he said.
“They just seem to gel better than the other combinations we have tried. They spent a few games together last year and we’ll run them out this week and hopefully they can pick up where they left off.
"Until Milly got injured we were heading towards running with Tommy and Milf and at at the moment Brodie and Tommy are very similar sort of players.
"Our attack hasn’t flowed while they have both been there.
"I think [Brodie] has to learn to play that second fiddle role and let Tommy run the team and Brodie take his opportunities off the back of that.
"His game is a work in progress there and we have spoken to him about what is required there and he has taken it on the chin.”
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Jordan Kahu plays his first game of the year in the centres for Brisbane after recovering from shoulder surgery.
"It is 350-odd days since he played for the Broncos. He’s excited and the boys are excited and if you’d been watching him at training this week he’s been jumping out of his skin," Gentle said.
Gentle was good humoured at his press conference and had a chuckle when it was put to him that the Dragons clash was “the ultimate grudge match” for him given he played three first-grade games for the Red V in the halves in the late 1980s.
A win will be vital for the 15th-placed Broncos if they are to avoid the wooden spoon.
“I marked it on my calendar since the draw came out. I've got a lot of friends there [at the Dragons] so I am looking forward to it,” he grinned.
"At the moment it is important to win tomorrow night but the long picture is that we don’t want to get the spoon.
"The whole week has been focused on two things – an 80-minute performance and our defence."