The old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ may well be applicable in car yards, supermarkets and hardware stores, yet it appears to be well off the mark when it comes to the Brisbane Broncos and Anthony Milford.
It is difficult to pinpoint another modern player who has been paid an equally princely sum for such frustrating and inconsistent performances.
In 2012, and after a decorated representative junior career, Milford arrived in the nation’s capital with accolades aplenty. There was little time spent in the NYC, with his career fast tracked when he joined the Raiders’ NRL squad early in 2013.
So dynamic and promising he was, Milford soon become the talk of the NRL community.
That chatter was well researched, with the Brisbane-born youngster likely to become one of the best players in the NRL should his ascension continue. He possessed, and still does, a turn of foot the envy of many, a powerful frame that challenged any defender and a penchant for the freakish via an impressive skill set.
In late 2013 and with Milford still just 18 years of age, the Broncos came knocking with a contract worth $900,000 over two seasons. With the lure of a return to his home state attractive and necessary at the time, Milford signed, destined to return home after one final season in Canberra.
That season saw little sign of anything other than the continued emergence of a new NRL star, with Milford close to State of Origin and Kangaroo selection.
His arrival in Brisbane was to coincide with the return of coach Wayne Bennett and a heart-breaking loss to North Queensland in the 2015 grand final.
There were finals appearances in the three seasons that followed under Bennett and Milford’s potential value continued to climb. As such, he became a million dollar player early in 2017, with a deal struck that would keep him in Brisbane until the end of the 2021 season.
As certain and prudent as that signing may have appeared to the Broncos back then, with one of the most promising and exciting young players in the nation locked away for five seasons, the investment has proven to be a rather frustrating and fruitless exercise.
In fact, the average Broncos fan now appears rather supportive of the idea of cutting Milford loose and investing elsewhere. It has been a stunning downfall, one nobody saw coming during the promising Canberra days.
However, the Raiders have been the long-term winners, after accepting Milford’s request to return to Brisbane for family reasons.
The majority of NRL fans could not give a flying banana how poorly Brisbane perform in the NRL competition, given the Broncos’ historically sweet Friday night draws and their consistent ability to field a team stacked with a host of representative players.
In fact, there may well be a number of rugby league fans taking some sort of sick pleasure in watching the Broncos battle under new coach Anthony Seibold and a five-eighth in Milford who continues to struggle to provide the spark required.
Yet up north, there is no such mirth. Without a premiership since 2006, and after appearing to be back on track when Wayne Bennett threatened to win another in his most recent stint at the club, Broncos fans are none too pleased.
There was general disappointment in the Ivan Henjak and Anthony Griffin eras, Bennett restored some hope soon after, yet Seibold appears to have missed the mark in terms of recruitment and retention and the Broncos appear to be on the slide.
Thus, the lug nuts look to be well and truly loose and the Broncos cart developing the most distinct of wobbles, with much of the blame attributed to a consistently inconsistent Milford.
Darius Boyd is also in the crosshairs, with his form and commitment well below NRL standard, the team’s inability to score points is obvious and all the while Milford’s play continues to be nothing short of vacuous.
A chicken or egg discussion emanates from such a situation. Is Milford the core issue? Or is the overall team performance doing little to provide him with the opportunities required to convert on the scoreboard?
People will form their own view on that. However, it is for certain that the Broncos’ investment in Milford has at this point been unrequited.
Different coaches, tactics and positional changes within the team have all failed to fully unlock the talent inside what appeared to be a potential modern-day NRL superstar and I guess the Broncos have two options.
Either cut their losses and look elsewhere for their next premiership-winning pivot, or re-sign Anthony Milford for 2022 and beyond in the hope that the world will one day see the best of him.