NEWS The alarming decline of Milford's biggest weapon

Super Freak

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Stats Insider: Anthony Milford’s poor start continues trend of declining running game


March 9, 2018
ANTHONY Milford has been a lightning rod for criticism over the last 12 months and a disappointing first up performance against the Dragons has Matthew Johns tipping against the Broncos to make the top eight.

Milford’s inability to transition from a lethal ballrunner to a game managing playmaker has got the jungle drums beating, with a dominant half seemingly missing from the Broncos’ roster.

That observation was put strongly into perspective by Ben Hunt’s outstanding debut for St George Illawarra in a thumping Round 1 victory.

And it could be the failure of Wayne Bennett to identify the club’s next great halfback that hurts Milford, with Fox Sports Lab identifying a change in his game since he dominated the 2015 grand final and was unlucky not to win the Clive Churchill Medal.

Since bursting onto the scene as a teenage fullback for the Raiders, it’s always been Milford’s running game that has electrified the arena.

However, the pressure that comes with a million dollar contract dictates that a half is more than just a flashy line breaker, they have to have their fingerprints all over the game plan.

Which might explain the trend that sees Milford running the ball less every season since 2015.

That career-best year was built on more than 10 runs per game. Last season he was back to seven-and-a-half and against the Dragons on Thursday night he only ran the ball four times — none of those runs put any stress on St George Illawarra’s defensive line.

With less running has come less tries (seven last year compared to 13 in 2015), his linebreaks have halved (10 last year compared to 19 in 2015) and his tackle busts have reduced.

Speaking on The Late Show with Matty Johns, the host was scathing of Milford’s Round 1 showing, pointing out that No.7 Kodi Nikorima’s game was doing him no favours.

To turn things around it might take something as simple as a return to what Milford does best, with former Broncos star Jharal Yow Yeh calling on both halves to be more direct and aggressive.

“There’s a couple of things, I think Kodi Nikorima gelling with Anthony Milford,” Yow Yeh told Fox Sports News on Friday morning.

“I think they need to be a bit more aggressive and assertive in the way they talk on the field.”

Allowing Milford to go back to his instinctive running game would require someone else to step up as the organiser, with Darius Boyd’s influence at fullback clearly vital to Brisbane’s attack.

However, according to Johns, the cracks may be too large to paper over, with the lack of a natural playmaker endangering their finals hopes.

“They don’t have a dominant half,” Johns said.

“The missing of Ash Taylor is disastrous for that club because Milford’s a runner and Nikorima is a clever player, he’s a skilful player, but he’s not a dominant half.

“ ... Every great side has a great No.7, a seven or a six that can own the contest and for mine the Broncos haven’t got that.

“I’m looking at the Broncos and I say, where’s the star power? Jack Bird didn’t play tonight and Darius Boyd is at the back but who is their Thurston? Who is their Cameron Smith? Who’s going to make it happen?

“I watched their attack and there was no variation in their attack from the beginning to the end. It was the same shape all the time.”

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Source: Fox Sports
 

Alec

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It's sad cause it's true. We haven't seen him run like he did in his Canberra or early Broncs days. I remember him tripping over himself last year when stepping. Hence the fat jokes everywhere.
 

Pushkin

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“I watched their attack and there was no variation in their attack from the beginning to the end. It was the same shape all the time.” I total agree with this statement.
 

Jason Simmons

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5E1242BB-C11A-4A85-9CF3-8C97980F0732.jpeg Nothing to see here, move along people...

Brisbane Broncos media staff - 2018.
 
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Sproj

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So he’s got a bad attitude and the more he gets paid, the less he produces. Not to mention the guy getting paid a third of his wage in the 7 is going just as good (or bad). Nice decision there Broncs. I’ve got to say, Milf better pull his finger out because given he is what the club is building around, if he doesn’t, he won’t have many fans left.
 

Porthoz

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So he’s got a bad attitude and the more he gets paid, the less he produces. Not to mention the guy getting paid a third of his wage in the 7 is going just as good (or bad). Nice decision there Broncs. I’ve got to say, Milf better pull his finger out because given he is what the club is building around, if he doesn’t, he won’t have many fans left.
How does he have a bad attitude? I don't see him hiding, I see him trying hard (and failing) to do something that doesn't come naturally to him, at all.
Yet, all everyone sees is what he is paid, because a million dollars apparently also buys you a game manager brain...

Keep ignoring the obvious!
 

Viti

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At the end end of the day not many people in the NRL can run around a set defence, I said it in another thread but Milf’s performance is a reflection on how the whole team is performing. Our attack was piss poor for the majority of last year but Milf has still pulled some highlight plays out of nowhere.
 

Socnorb

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So everyone complaining about Milford pay packet would've been happy to see him go to Melbourne then?
 

Unbreakable

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So everyone complaining about Milford pay packet would've been happy to see him go to Melbourne then?
No, because they have the perfect halves partner for him (Croft), Milford would've been the best Five-Eighth in the world at Melbourne, I have no questions.

People scoffed at names like Josh McCrone, Sam Williams & Chad Townsend being thrown around last year, guess what, if any of them were our 7 then Milford could play his natural game and I'm almost 100% certain we'd be a better team for it.

As Porthoz Porthoz has been saying today, we're trying to turn Milford in to Lockyer, he isn't Lockyer, not even close, he's a dynamic runner of the football who we've tried to mould in to something he's clearly not.
 

Cult3

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So everyone complaining about Milford pay packet would've been happy to see him go to Melbourne then?
I know it's probably too much to ask in this day and age but I'd prefer if our star player respected the club enough to not hold that over their heads in an attempt to earn a contract he didn't deserve because at the end of the day the club has suffered because of it. The extra 350k could have been the difference between Kodi at halfback or someone like Pearce or Maloney. It could have been the difference between Thaiday at prop or Herman Ese'ese. It could have been the difference between Kahu at centre or Dane Gagai. Isaako or McGillvary, Glenn or Oates, Thaiday or Baptiste at hooker!
 

Danoz Direct

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I know it's probably too much to ask in this day and age but I'd prefer if our star player respected the club enough to not hold that over their heads in an attempt to earn a contract he didn't deserve because at the end of the day the club has suffered because of it. The extra 350k could have been the difference between Kodi at halfback or someone like Pearce or Maloney. It could have been the difference between Thaiday at prop or Herman Ese'ese. It could have been the difference between Kahu at centre or Dane Gagai. Isaako or McGillvary, Glenn or Oates, Thaiday or Baptiste at hooker!
Prefer Isaako over McGillvary due to how good his was in round one and the fact he'd be on a lot smaller salary.
 

Cult3

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Prefer Isaako over McGillvary due to how good his was in round one and the fact he'd be on a lot smaller salary.
To be fair, I’ve watched it again and Isaako was better than I thought. I still think he should have backed himself more but he still got the pass away to Roberts to score. But we could have used McGillvarys metres from our own half
 

Sproj

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So everyone complaining about Milford pay packet would've been happy to see him go to Melbourne then?
This is definitely going to be controversial but it is what it is. Is Milf better than KNik? Yes, absolutely BUT is he two to three times better than KNik? On the last 18 months’ evidence, I would argue no.

As Cult3 Cult3 said, what would be better Milf + KNik or KNik + Taylor/Pearce/Hunt.

It is all ifs and buts of course and please understand, I DESPERATELY want to be proven wrong here, absolutely desperately.

Yes, they made top four last year but have no direction, they often make it based on the massive individual talent in the side but when a team like Newcastle with over the half their side debuting can look like they’ve been playing together longer than the Broncs have, there are very, very big question marks on that.

Now, Milf is not a child anymore, he is the man the side is banking their immediate future on, I’m concerned.

I was also out of line with the lack of effort comment Porthoz Porthoz, that’s for sure. There is no doubting Milf’s effort, you can see him really trying to adapt to be something he isn’t. Good on him for that but maybe he just isn’t as good as he looked like he would be or maybe, far more likely, it is down to coaching.
 

Danoz Direct

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This is definitely going to be controversial but it is what it is. Is Milf better than KNik? Yes, absolutely BUT is he two to three times better than KNik? On the last 18 months’ evidence, I would argue no.

As Cult3 Cult3 said, what would be better Milf + KNik or KNik + Taylor/Pearce/Hunt.

It is all ifs and buts of course and please understand, I DESPERATELY want to be proven wrong here, absolutely desperately.

Yes, they made top four last year but have no direction, they often make it based on the massive individual talent in the side but when a team like Newcastle with over the half their side debuting can look like they’ve been playing together longer than the Broncs have, there are very, very big question marks on that.

Now, Milf is not a child anymore, he is the man the side is banking their immediate future on, I’m concerned.

I was also out of line with the lack of effort comment Porthoz Porthoz, that’s for sure. There is no doubting Milf’s effort, you can see him really trying to adapt to be something he isn’t. Good on him for that but maybe he just isn’t as good as he looked like he would be or maybe, far more likely, it is down to coaching.
I think we should give Milford a chance to show what we can do when our pack isn't getting completely dominated all match.
 

Clintos

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Talk about a storm in a teacup. The media has moved from attacking Lodge to attacking Milford.

Did he have a good game? Definitely not. We need to remember our forwards were completely dominated outside TPJ and Lodge, and we had very ordinary service out the whole game. Macca was very rusty, and Thaiday quite obviously isn't a hooker.

When you factor in the poor completion rate and subsequent lack of possession is it any wonder he had a poor game? Is anyone really surprised by that based on the game? I'm certainly not.

After the Cowboys we have a pretty soft schedule - and that's going to be the best indicator of how he and Nikorima are going. Get some confidence and form and then they will hopefully be ready for the bigger teams at the back end of the season.
 

talanoa

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I think we should give Milford a chance to show what we can do when our pack isn't getting completely dominated all match.
if milford gets front foot ball out of dummy half then he will get more space to run. but that is a big if!
i also think milf wouldnt have the engine to play fullback, although i do believe that full back would be his best role. he could float around the ruck and play what he sees rather than being a ball distributor and playing 6.
 

Unbreakable

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I'm seeing far too many excuses in favour of Milford honestly.

Needs a dominant Halfback who can do 90% of the kicking and game management at a high level.
Needs a dominant Forward pack to get the team in optimal field position every set.
Needs a dominant Hooker who can get the team on the front foot every set.
Needs Kevin Walters as the halves coach.

It would be nice if we had all of those things, alas, we don't. (Partially because we're paying him so much..) With the amount we're paying him he should be dominating regardless.
 

Jason Simmons

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So everyone complaining about Milford pay packet would've been happy to see him go to Melbourne then?
No.

But I would have liked to see the difference in his apparent attitude towards diet / training / conditioning / performance at Melbourne compared to here...

Do we need to look past Kasiano? Funny how we don’t see many excuses about ‘genes’ in Melbourne...
 

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