Enter your email to read this article
Read news on any topic, in one place, from publishers like The Economist, FT, Bloomberg and more.

Return ticket: Milford primed for clash with former teammates

Newcastle half Anthony Milford says he harbours no ill-will towards former club Brisbane but will do his outright best to dent their finals chances on Saturday.

Milford, who played 151 games for the Broncos before departing the club last year, will be in familiar territory when he turns out at Suncorp Stadium but traversing an uncharted path.

Not only will he be returning to the ground he called home for seven seasons, but it will be the first time he has played at the famous venue for an opposition side.

RETURN NORTH: Anthony Milford. Picture: Peter Lorimer

In 42 games for Canberra Raiders at the start of his career, Milford faced the Broncos twice but both games were in the nation's capital.

Saturday's match will also be a chance for Milford to exact some revenge on the Broncos, who beat the Knights 36-12 at McDonald Jones Stadium in round 11 - the five-eighth's first game in a red and blue jersey.

Brisbane had won six of 10 games prior to that meeting and are now placed seventh with a record of 12 wins and eight losses, well ahead of where they were this time last year - second last.

CAREER LIFELINE: Milford playing against Brisbane in round 11. Picture: Peter Lorimer

Milford told the Newcastle Herald he was not surprised by his old side's resurgence this season, acknowledging the influence of key recruits Adam Reynolds and Kurt Capewell and pointing to the growth of players like Kotoni Staggs and Jordan Riki.

"I'm so happy for them," he said. "I've still got a lot of good mates there. I watch them every week I can.

"They're in a good position. The buys that they've done have helped out, obviously, with everything that is going on. [But] a lot of the players that were 0-20 [matches], are now up to playing 20 to 50 to 100 games each. Experience wins all the time."

With star fullback Kalyn Ponga and now halfback Jake Clifford both sidelined, Milford shapes as the main man if Newcastle are to spring an upset on Saturday.

With four games left to play, the Broncos are on 26 points - a win clear of eight-placed Sydney Roosters (24) and two ahead of Canberra Raiders (22) in ninth.

They appear well-placed to make the finals but after back-to-back defeats to the Roosters (16-34) and Tigers (18-32), another loss could put them on shaky ground.

Newcastle will rate themselves a fair chance of causing a boilover after thieir win over the Tigers and they've had success in trips to Brisbane this year - beating the Bulldogs and Warriors.

Offered a career lifeline by the Knights earlier this year, Milford has had limited success in his short stint with Newcastle - winning only three of 10 games - but he is keen to depart on a high.

The Dolphins-bound playmaker has only four games left to leave a lasting impression, but Knights coach Adam O'Brien praised the Samoan international's commitment in Sunday's 14-10 win over the Tigers.

"Milf is not here next year but he was hurting," O'Brien said. "Really invested."

Milford was pleased with how the Knights, he included, didn't let a host of errors cost them a win over Wests.

"We've got to move on pretty quick and can't dwell on the mistakes," he said. "As a half, you have to. It's just next-job mentality. I thought we did that pretty well."

Milford will return to Brisbane at the end of this season after taking up a two-deal to join the Dolphins for their inaugural campaign in 2023.

The 28-year-old said he would always be grateful to the Knights for allowing him to resume his NRL career after a brief exile from the game earlier this year.

"I can't talk any higher of the club, I love it," he said.

"They've made me feel welcome since day one."

WHAT DO YOU THINK? We've made it a whole lot easier for you to have your say. Our new comment platform requires only one log-in to access articles and to join the discussion on the Newcastle Herald website. Find out how to register so you can enjoy civil, friendly and engaging discussions. Sign up for a subscription here.