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Third time lucky for Milford as Robati eyes NRL debut

Teenage back-rower Teui Robati could become Brisbane’s second debutant in as many weeks while Anthony Milford will get a third chance in first grade as the Broncos search for replacements for suspended duo Matt Lodge and Tyson Gamble.

Milford is set to partner Albert Kelly in the halves after the marquee playmaker was told to sit out Sunday’s Intrust Super Cup game for Souths Logan after the Broncos were advised of Gamble’s crusher tackle charge and one-game suspension.

The 26-year-old had held talks with coach Kevin Walters after being dropped for the second time this year and with Gamble taking the one-game ban Milford will get a chance to partner fellow livewire Kelly against Melbourne on Thursday night.

The last time Kelly and Milford paired together was in Souths Logan’s 60-10 win over Mackay Cutters and the duo produced six try assists between them.

Kelly is excited about linking with the former Origin star again and the veteran playmaker said he was willing to take the lead so Milford could play his natural game.

Kelly to ignite Broncos with Milford

"Tyson is a very tough player and it’s unfortunate that he is suspended but Milf just slots back in and he will be up for it," Kelly said.

"It’s a joy for me really, I can just organise and do my own thing and just let him take a bit of kicking off me. I just want to see his natural running game and passing, it’s special.

"We both bring a good attacking game and it’s really up to how we come up in D [defence]. The Storm are a very good attacking team and defensive team so we have to turn up in D first.

TC Robati has been in fine form in the Intrust Super Cup for Wynnum Manly.
TC Robati has been in fine form in the Intrust Super Cup for Wynnum Manly. ©qrl.com.au

"I just try to bring a little bit of enthusiasm and energy around the ball and a different dimension of attack.

"I’m not going to die wondering. I’m going to give it a shot whenever I can.

"I have learnt over the years that game management is big now so I’ve added that to my arsenal as well."

Robati, 19, is under consideration for his NRL debut after serving as 18th man in last week’s upset win over the Roosters and is vying with fellow rising teen Brendan Piakura and hooker Danny Levi for a chance to face Melbourne at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night.

Walters handed Kobe Hetherington his NRL debut last week and continued his fine Intrust Super Cup form for the Broncos giving the coach confidence he can back the guys who've consistently performed in the state league.

18th man TC Robati with Keenan Palasia after the win over the Roosters at the SCG.
18th man TC Robati with Keenan Palasia after the win over the Roosters at the SCG. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

New Zealand-born Robati has impressed in his six games for Wynnum Manly in the Intrust Super Cup this year, averaging 115 metres with 17 offloads, one try and four line break assists to go alongside his perfect winning record.

Lodge’s suspension means Walters will shuffle his pack, with Rhys Kennedy or John Asiata a chance to start, opening up a spot on the bench with Robati a chance to earn his debut given his ability to play in the middle of the park.

Match Highlights: Roosters v Broncos

Broncos winger David Mead said he was confident Robati could handle the step up to the Telstra Premiership after seeing his form first hand at the Seagulls.

"Yeah, I’m not sure what Kevvie will do with the team yet but if TC gets his chance, I’ve played with him at Wynnum for two games there and I really like him," Mead said.

"He is a young guy and really energetic, he plays with heart and he plays tough so if he does get an opportunity I’m sure he will make the most of it."