Anthony Milford has opened up in a candid interview ahead of his return to the NRL, revealing the incredible impact Andrew Johns has had on his game as he prepares for his Knights debut.
Milford, who had played 193 NRL games with the Raiders and Broncos, originally signed with the Rabbitohs on a one-year contract before being charged with three counts of assault following an incident in Brisbane last September.
Milford has since been cleared of those charges, but that deal with South Sydney was never registered by the NRL, forcing him to look elsewhere for a lifeline.
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He found it at Newcastle, although Milford admitted in a wide interview with press companythat he hadn’t expected to end up in the Hunter.
“I never thought I would find myself living in Newcastle playing for the Knights,” Milford said.
“It will be weird to end up against the Broncos. The key is to treat it like any other game. I’ll do my homework on them. They’re doing pretty well as a team with Adam Reynolds in charge so it’s going to be a big test for me.
“To be honest, not having played for seven months was a pretty shitty feeling, but this is my chance to help Newcastle turn things around.
“I am grateful to the Knights for caring about me at a difficult time in my life. They supported me in this situation while others did not. I’m glad the NRL allowed me to come back, provided I did what they wanted me to do and did.
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Milford has revealed some advice from the legendary Knights Johns halfback could help him go even further after a long layoff.
“I met ‘Joey’. It blew my mind,” Milford said.
“I’ve had a few sessions with him and his footballing brain is amazing. He knows the game inside and out and I listen to him very carefully and observe the things he tries to teach me and Kalyn .
“It’s pretty cool for my upbringing to work with an Immortal like Joey.”
With the Knights picking up a well-deserved victory over the Bulldogs on Friday, the challenge now will be to build on that win.
The key to achieving that is not being so reliant on Kalyn Ponga in an attacking position on the pitch and Milford said he can help with that.
“I can’t wait to play with Kalyn,” he said.
“I think I can help him and we can bring out the best in each other and if we do that it will help the team. Kalyn is a special talent but there are other players here with real potential with the Knights.
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Milford admitted he was “disappointed” when his contract with South Sydney was not registered with the NRL, revealing he had left it locked in and his future was uncertain.
“I arrived there on a Tuesday, went for a medical on Wednesday and was supposed to be registered on Thursday, but that’s when I found out I couldn’t be registered,” said Milford.
“I ended up working one-on-one with one of the coaches who did basic training with me.
“I was stuck in Sydney with the Covid situation. We spent about three weeks in Sydney where I was on my own and wasn’t being paid, so I had to sort things out.
“I was staying in a flat in Surry Hills for a few weeks but when things fell apart with Souths and the NRL I was left nowhere.
“When the borders reopened I was on the first flight back to Queensland.”
Now Milford is set to begin a new chapter in his career at Newcastle, although he admits his manager has had “some discussions” with the Dolphins and former Broncos coach Wayne Bennett.
“But my only focus right now is the Knights and let’s see what happens,” he added.
“I don’t even look that far with the Dolphins. I appreciate the chance the Knights have given me and want to make sure that I return their faith to them first. I have another chance now and I can’t waste it.