Broncos star gunning for Milford’s spot
Broncos man-of-the-moment Jamayne Isaako has outlined his plan to play fullback as Anthony Milford faces a challenge from the enemy within for the decorated Brisbane No.1 jumper.
On the eve of Brisbane's final-round clash with the Bulldogs Saturday night at Sydney's ANZ Stadium, "The Iceman" Isaako has big-picture plans that involve him wearing the fullback jumper made famous by Darren Lockyer.
Isaako was Brisbane's golden-point hero against the Eels last week, driving home a field goal to all but seal a finals berth in a sign the backline dynamo has recaptured his confidence and zip on Brisbane's right wing.
But ultimately Isaako has dreams to be Brisbane's fullback matchwinner with the Broncos having spent the past three years grooming him to be Darius Boyd's successor before coach Anthony Seibold's big switch.
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Seibold's shock decision two months ago to move Milford to fullback and shift skipper Boyd to five-eighth has thrown a spanner in the works for Isaako.
The Kiwi Test flyer is a team player who has great respect for Milford's talent and Seibold's tactical gamble, but he is refusing to give up hope of becoming Brisbane's pre-eminent custodian.
Asked if he still harbours a desire to shift to fullback, Isaako said: "Yes absolutely.
"I still have a goal to try and play fullback.
"At the moment Seibs has 'Milf' at the back and he is doing the job for us and I have to respect that.
"All I can do is try and perform on the wing and put my best foot forward for the team wherever they want to play me."
One of Queensland's greatest fullbacks, former Origin and Test custodian Gary Belcher, said it would be a mistake to move Milford, declaring he must finish his NRL career in the Broncos' No.1 jumper.
Belcher believes Isaako has the skill-set to succeed in the backfield, but is adamant Milford has found a home out of the frontline.
"I think Jamayne will struggle to play fullback for the Broncos," said 16-game Origin legend Belcher.
"Isaako can be a very good fullback but he has a bit of work to do to be the finished product.
"I just can't see Isaako playing too many games at fullback unless Milford gets injured.
"I am loving the way 'Milf' is playing in the No.1 jumper. He is back in the groove there.
"His role is not that of a conventional fullback but it suits him beautifully the way they have got him playing.
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"I know Darius hasn't gone long left in his career but I wouldn't move Milford back into the halves.
"Milf has shown he is a much better player for the club as a fullback and I hope he finishes his career there."
Isaako struggled early in the season after being rocked by his father's cancer diagnosis, but after a mid-season trip to visit his family in New Zealand, he has surged back into form.
"I'm just a lot less stressed about family matters," he said.
"Just being able to go back home earlier in the year and speaking to the coaching staff about spending time with my father gave me a lot more stress relief.
"I came back to the Broncos with a clearer mind of my role here at training and my role in the team. That has definitely helped me."