Anthony Milford has emerged as a front-runner for the vital number 14 jersey for the Queensland Maroons with Broncos captain Darius Boyd insisting his size and skillset made him an "ideal" option for coach Kevin Walters.
With Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans in doubt for game one of the Holden State of Origin series on June 5 the Maroons have options at halfback in Michael Morgan and Ben Hunt.
But those two players could also play elsewhere. Hunt is an option at hooker and Morgan a possibility for a centre spot if Cherry-Evans is fit, which puts Milford in the frame for the utility role after his man-of-the-match performance in the 26-10 win over Manly on Friday.
Milford scored a try and set up two others with deft grubbers to put his stamp on the game, making a strong case for Queensland consideration.
Boyd, who played 28 Origin games for the Maroons, said Milford's game was a perfect fit for the utility position.
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"Milf played 14 last year for Queensland and is ideal in that role because he can play a number of spots. He could play at nine if he had to and is quick out of dummy-half," Boyd told NRL.com.
"The thing about Milf is that he is a solid guy. He is 90-plus kilos and one of the biggest five-eighths in the competition so he has that strong base where he can break tackles with ease.
"He has the skillset where you could play him in the halves, in the centres or at fullback. It is a tough one to know when to put those versatile guys on when there are no injuries, but Kalyn Ponga showed last year for Queensland that it doesn’t really matter because he just went out and did a great job."
Boyd said Milford’s match-winning capabilities would also be invaluable in an Origin setting.
"You need those game breaking players like Milf in big games sometimes especially when there is one try in it. When the game is on the line footwork and freshness can get you something special," Boyd said.
"Milf cops a lot of criticism because of the way the team has been performing and because of his pay cheque more than anything, but he is a really hard worker at training for us and the rewards have come on the back of it."
Milford played five-eighth in one game for the Maroons in 2017 before he was injured and was the utility in game one last year.
His innate skills are well recognised but it is his short kicking game that has progressed well and could also be a handy weapon in Origin footy.
"If I get the jumper again I will take it with two hands and do the best I can. I’ve just got to work really hard to knuckle down my performances for the Broncos leading up to Origin,” Milford said.
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"I’ve been working on my kicking game a lot more than usual. Three years ago when I lost Benny Hunt he was more the dominant half and the dominant kicker, whereas I was more the runner. That side of my game has evolved a lot."
Milford said he had also been determined to take games by the scruff of the neck, which he did against Manly.
"It was on myself. One of the things I was big on during the week was to stay busy during the game whether it was support play or calling the ball at first receiver," Milford said.
"I worked really hard at that and hopefully this win can turn our season around.
"We are copping a lot of a criticism at the moment left, right and centre but as a group we are sticking together and not listening to the outside noise or letting it get to us. There is a real will to win within this group."