He was given a few shots at Origin for Queensland and performed fairly, without demanding to be a fixture in the squad year after year. Given the quality that has departed the scene for the Maroons over the past few years, it’s telling that Milford doesn’t appear to be in the picture in any way for this year’s series.
In many ways, that speaks volumes about Milford, in terms of how his progression has tracked compared to the footballer the Broncos thought he would have already become. The club tends to be ultra-sensitive about any criticism of him but this shouldn’t be perceived as any sort of attack. Milford is a very good player but at this stage, not a great.
The reason he presents as such an intriguing figure this season is because he tends to be a lightning rod for most of the bolts directed at the struggling Broncos, who are enduring a historically bad start under new coach Anthony Seibold.
After six rounds, they find themselves in 14th spot on the ladder. Like Newcastle and the Bulldogs, they have just a solitary win to their name. With games against the Sharks (H), South Sydney (A), Manly (A) and the Roosters (H) on their horizon, it’s entirely possible they might not be singing the team song for at least another month. The kitchen would almost be melting down by that stage.
Thurston has been among those to suggest Milford and his halfback Kodi Nikorima need to find layers to their game and do so in a hurry. Andrew Johns has been another to bemoan the lack of a dominant on-field general when Brisbane have needed one the most.
Both are right but putting a silo around Nikorima and Milford won’t solve Brisbane’s concerns. Seibold has a lengthy to-do list in coming weeks and should the losing streak continue, he must make some potentially crushing decisions about the few senior figures in his roster.
Darius Boyd has been a wonderful campaigner at every level of the game but on form and fitness, you could make a serious argument that he may not have a place in the starting side. Andrew McCullough is as reliable as a Victa mower but the Broncos have looked more potent when Nikorima swings in from the bench to a running dummy-half role later in the contest.
It has been intriguing to watch Seibold’s response to the weekly news that the sky is falling in. In that regard, he’s a completely different beast than Bennett, who would often leak an alternate news line through his favourite journalists to throw everyone off the scent of a poorly performing side.
Seibold has kept most of the beat reporters at arm’s length and has worn any criticism on the chin. He’s quickly become highly defensive of his players and you suspect has been taking names of anyone and everyone that has given the club a kicking, or revelled in the bumbles of the game’s richest franchise.
In the first year of his extended deal, he’s taken to using the mantra of former Philadelphia 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie, who urged fans to ‘Trust the Process’ as the side lurched through a series of horrible seasons as part of longer-term strategy to become one of the best in the NBA.
They now have superstars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, are back in the playoffs and are making a run towards the NBA finals. The problem for Hinkie is that his employment didn’t last long enough to see the fruits of his work. In staying faithful to his plans, Seibold must be wary of the same pitfall.