Milford opens up about abuse, pressure

 

Anthony Milford believes he will succeed at fullback for the Broncos after revealing the advice of a sports psychologist has helped him handle relentless abuse and criticism this season.

Milford will wear the No.1 jersey against Melbourne at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night after coach Anthony Seibold opted to shake up his playmaking spine and inject young gun Tom Dearden into the halves.

Milford is no stranger to fullback, having burst on to the NRL scene in 2013 in the role at Canberra and switching to the position midway through last season.

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Anthony Milford at Broncos training on Thursday. Picture: NewsWire/John Gass
Anthony Milford at Broncos training on Thursday. Picture: NewsWire/John Gass


The Broncos' $1 million man believes five-eighth is still his best spot, but is willing to give it his all at the back as Brisbane searches for a way to fight out of a worrying form slump.

Milford has been savaged by commentators and disgruntled Broncos fans for his performances this season, many calling for Seibold to axe the highest-paid player in Brisbane's history.

In his only interview ahead of tonight's clash, Milford said he had weathered the storm and was ready to fire in his positional switch.

"Look, I don't let it get to me," Milford told News Corp.

"I have two beautiful young daughters at home that keep me busy so I don't read too much into what is said about me and I don't have too much time to worry about it. I have two girls who keep me sane and happy.

"I'm definitely trying my heart out. I do care. But I'm also careful not to try too hard because I think that's when you are more likely to make mistakes.

"I am trying to have the balance and make my efforts count when it matters most.

"I'm not listening to the critics. I don't really get too low on confidence.

Anthony Milford with daughter Ariana and Kodi Nikorima with son Zavier in March 2019.
Anthony Milford with daughter Ariana and Kodi Nikorima with son Zavier in March 2019.


"Wayne Bennett (former Broncos coach) really helped me in a huge way with my mental approach to the game. A few years ago, Wayne brought Phil Jauncey, a sports psychologist, into the club and they both really helped on the mental side of my game.

"That always sticks with me to this day, just how to approach the game mentally and trying to enjoy the game even in hard times."

Milford, 26, has become a polarising player at the Broncos.

He has shown so much talent in a 177-game NRL career, as evidenced by being the best player in the 2015 grand final, that the expectations have become difficult to live up to consistently.

That, coupled with being the club's highest-paid player ever, has made Milford an easy target when the Broncos are losing.

His combination with halfback Brodie Croft has failed to fire on the back of Brisbane's beaten forwards in what has been a perfect storm for the Broncos to lose seven of their past eight games.

Milford hit back at suggestions his move to fullback was akin to being dropped and said he was ready to thrive.

It’s been a tough couple of season on the field for Anthony Milford.
It’s been a tough couple of season on the field for Anthony Milford.


"I've read some things that I've been dropped - I haven't been dropped, the coach has spoken to me about playing another position and I'm putting the team before myself," he said.

"My form isn't as good as what I've hoped for this year.

"If you have seen the last couple of games, I have been popping around like I'm a fullback.

"We have a real shortage of fullbacks, Tesi Niu is injured and Jamayne Isaako's father has passed away which is terrible. With those guys out, that opened the door for me to go to fullback and that gives Tom an opportunity to play in the halves.

"Seibs' view is that being at fullback can create more space for me. Not being locked into one side of the field, I can roam around and follow the forwards a lot more and with more room to move, hopefully that frees me up to attack.

"I think having me, Tommy and Brodie in the spine can only benefit us and hopefully Tom can bring some energy and enthusiasm to the team.

"To be honest, I see myself as a five-eighth, I still think I can succeed there, but in a time like this, with so many injuries, I am open to playing wherever the team needs me to play.

"As long as I am wearing a Broncos jersey at the end of the week, I'm happy. I will play wherever the team needs me."

The Broncos have been given next to no hope of beating the Storm, with bookmakers installing them as $9.50 outsiders, the longest odds Brisbane has ever faced.

Milford will carry a minor leg complaint into the game but said the Broncos would challenge Melbourne.

"This is a huge game for the whole club," he said.

"We all need to turn up with the right attitude and be ready to put in an 80-minute performance that everyone, including the fans, can be proud of. We don't want to let the fans down.

"The last few months have been really hard. No-one wants to go through the losing streak that we have, get one win against the Bulldogs and then put in a performance against the Tigers (48-0) which was simply unacceptable.

"It's tough times, but we all need to work a lot harder for each other and do little things to make sure we are accountable for our actions.

"I know it's a challenging time for the club. There is no better feeling that coming up against a massive challenge when people doubt you and pulling through.

"A lot of people will be backing the Storm, but this week is all about effort. Regardless of what the scoreboard shows, it's important every Broncos player puts in for ourselves and the fans and that we can walk off holding our heads high."

Originally published as 'Trying my heart out': Milf opens up about abuse, pressure


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