Milford started the season in fine form. AAP Image/Dan Peled.
Milford started the season in fine form. AAP Image/Dan Peled.

NRL rivals circling Milford

Three NRL rivals have expressed interest in off-contract Anthony Milford as a poaching war breaks out over Brisbane's $1 million man.

The Courier-Mail can reveal Milford has become one of the code's most sought-after players, with the coronavirus pandemic unable to halt a surge of fresh interest in Brisbane's enigmatic playmaker.

Just six months ago, Milford's future at the Broncos looked shaky after Brisbane's shock 58-0 finals loss to Parramatta saw the club's senior core put on notice by coach Anthony Seibold.

But now Milford is in hot demand.

Relive classic NRL matches from the 60s to today on KAYO SPORTS. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >

A superb pre-season, franked by his slick form in the first two rounds, including the greatest solo try of his career in Brisbane's defeat of Souths in March, has created competitive tension for Milford's signature.

Under the terms of his contract, Milford must advise the Broncos by the end of this month whether he will reject a 12-month option in his favour to remain at Red Hill in 2021.

That gives Milford another 25 days to decide if he wants to remain a Bronco. But with three NRL suitors knocking on the door, the Queensland Origin ace is keen to sort out his future sooner and provide some salary cap clarity for Brisbane.

Milford's manager Sam Ayoub says interest is genuine, with the highest paid player in Brisbane's 32-year history to make a call in the next fortnight.

"I've been surprised by the level of interest in Anthony in the last few weeks," Ayoub said.

"The inquiries about him have been as much as I've ever had about him or any other player I've had.

Milford is the highest-paid player in Broncos history. AAP Image/Darren England.
Milford is the highest-paid player in Broncos history. AAP Image/Darren England.

"I won't mention clubs but over the next week or two we will make some firm decisions over what Anthony does.

"Because the option is in Anthony's favour, he is technically off-contract this year. He is available as we speak, but if he takes up the option, he is committed to the Broncos for 2021.

"The only decision Anthony needs to make is to tell the Broncos he's not staying - if he decides not to stay.

"I've been talking with Anthony about his future over the past month and we will do the right thing by the Broncos in the coming weeks when we finalise a decision."

Just this week, the NRL removed a freeze on all contract talks due to the COVID-19 saga, meaning Milford and other off-contract players can now re-enter negotiations with rival clubs.

While Milford has been maligned in recent years for some hot-and-cold form, the 25-year-old remains the most dangerous player in Brisbane's playmaking spine.

Having shed 3-5kg over summer, he started the 2020 campaign with a bang, scoring a magical 40-metre solo try in which he beat six Souths defenders.

The Broncos remain in the box seat to retain Milford, with interested clubs unlikely to have room in the salary cap to trump his $1 million Brisbane deal.

Originally published as NRL rivals circling Milford