Brisbane pivot Anthony Milford will have to wait to find out whether his shoulder injury is season-ending. (AAP: Dan Peled)
Instead of being considered for State of Origin, Anthony Milford is wondering when he will play again this year.
Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett admitted the shoulder injury Milford suffered in the Broncos’ 24-18 NRL win over South Sydney on Friday night may be season-ending.
Milford had expected to be named on Monday in Queensland’s squad for June 21’s Origin II, on standby for veteran playmaker Johnathan Thurston.
The 22-year-old made his Origin debut in Queensland’s heavy game one loss after Thurston pulled out with his ongoing shoulder complaint.
But Milford will not be playing Origin again soon after Bennett revealed the pivot would be sidelined for six weeks with a dislocated shoulder before they assessed his season’s prospects.
“It will be a six-week process at least,” Bennett said.
“We’ll see where he is at the end of that and whether he can play the rest of the season or it’s season-ending.”
Milford appeared in sublime touch for Brisbane against the Rabbitohs, setting up Jordan Kahu’s game-breaking 58th-minute try with a pinpoint grubber.
NRL tweet: Deft from @tony_milford! @JordanKahu finishes it off. #NRLBroncosSouths #NRL
Queensland coach Kevin Walters no doubt had his heart in his mouth when Milford clutched his shoulder in pain after falling awkwardly trying to dive on a loose ball in the 72nd minute.
Milford’s injury all but ensures half-back Ben Hunt’s NRL exile will be short-lived.
Bennett made the shock call to pick Kodi Nikorima at number seven for the South Sydney clash and relegate Hunt to Queensland Cup this weekend.
Hunt is now expected to be rushed back into the Broncos side for their next game after Milford’s injury.
Stepping up for Hunt on Friday night, Nikorima was exposed defensively, leaking two tries but did help set up Matt Gillett’s 19th minute four-pointer. He was replaced in the 56th minute by Benji Marshall.
Positive signs from Gillett, Thaiday
Walters would have liked what he saw from Brisbane forwards Gillett and Sam Thaiday.
The pair appear to have regained their mojo after copping flak following the 28-4 Origin I loss.
Gillett pulled off some stinging hits in defence to spark Brisbane alongside a rejuvenated Thaiday.
“I have seen a player tired, that’s all,” Bennett said of Gillett’s recent flat form.
“He’s up for 14 weeks and doing in excess of 40 tackles every week — some weeks 50.
“But he’s had five or six days off this week and feeling a lot fresher.”
Skipper Darius Boyd said Gillett and Thaiday were the difference in the tight win over a desperate Rabbitohs side, snapping Brisbane’s two-game losing run.
Boyd said the pair’s display was typical of what was required to help the Broncos get through the difficult Origin period.
“It’s always a tough time of the year for our club so you need some extra efforts, some special efforts,” Boyd said.
“I thought Matt Gillett, Sammy (were) in particular. They were inspirational.”