Opening up in a candid interview ahead of his NRL return, Anthony Milford reveals the incredible impact Andrew Johns had on his game as he plotted his Knights debut.
Milford, who had played 193 NRL games with the Raiders and Broncos, had initially signed a one-year contract with the Rabbitohs before being charged with three counts of assault after an incident in Brisbane last September.
Milford has since been cleared of those charges, but that South Sydney deal was never registered by the NRL, forcing him to look elsewhere for a lifeline.
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He found it in Newcastle, although Milford admitted in a lengthy interview with… News Corpthat he never expected to end up in the Hunter.
“I never thought I would live in Newcastle to play for the Knights,” said Milford.
“It will be weird to face the Broncos. The key is to treat it like any other game. I will 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.
“Having not played for seven months was a pretty crappy feeling to be honest, but this is my chance to help Newcastle turn things around.
“I am grateful to the knights for being interested in me at a difficult time in my life. They helped me through this situation when others didn’t. I’m glad the NRL allowed me to come back, provided I did the things they wanted me to do and I do.”
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Milford revealed that some advice from legendary Knights halfback Johns could help him develop his game even further after a long hiatus.
“I met ‘Joey’. It overwhelmed me,” Milford said.
“I’ve had a few sessions with him and his football brain is amazing. He knows the game inside out and I listen very carefully to him and look at the things he is trying to teach me and Kalyn.
“It’s pretty cool for my education to work with an immortal like Joey.”
While the Knights took a much-needed win against the Bulldogs on Friday, the challenge now will be to build on that win.
The key to doing this lies in not relying so much on Kalyn Ponga when attacking field positions and Milford said he can help there.
“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 at the Knights. “
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Milford admitted it was “disappointing” when his South Sydney deal was not registered with the NRL, showing that this left him stranded and his future uncertain.
“I got there on a Tuesday, I was supposed to have a medical on Wednesday and I was supposed to register on Thursday, but then I found out I couldn’t be registered,” Milford said.
“I ended up working one-on-one with one of the trainers who had completed basic training with me.
“I was stuck in Sydney with the Covid situation. We had about three weeks in Sydney where I was alone and not paid so I had to sort things out.
“I stayed in an apartment in Surry Hills for a few weeks, but when things fell apart with Souths and the NRL, I didn’t stay anywhere.
“When the borders reopened, I was on the first flight back to Queensland.”
Now Milford is poised to start a new chapter in his career at Newcastle, although he admits his manager has had “some talks” with the Dolphins and former Broncos coach Wayne Bennett.
“But my only focus at the moment is the Knights and let’s see what happens,” he added.
“With the dolphins, I don’t even look that far ahead. I am grateful for the opportunity the knights have given me and I want to make sure I repay their faith first. I now have another chance and I can’t pass it up.”
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