Broncos need Milf to lead from No.7
ANTHONY Milford and Kodi Nikorima will be Brisbane's halves for the rest of 2018.
Coach Wayne Bennett told us so last week following colleague Peter Badel's declaration that Milford's long-term future lies at fullback.
Regardless of form, Milford and Nikorima are the six and seven Bennett will trust to deliver the Broncos their first NRL premiership since 2006.
There is no point debating the issue because the stubborn Bennett will not bend and neither should he as the Broncos do not have any better options.
Through their own decisions - not the salary cap - the Broncos have farewelled genuine halfbacks in Ash Taylor (Titans) and Ben Hunt (Dragons) in recent seasons.
The horse has bolted and there is not point looking back, but there is an experiment Bennett is yet to conduct.
Milford and Nikorima should swap jerseys.
When the Broncos run on to Suncorp Stadium to face reigning premiers Melbourne on Friday week, Milford should be in the No.7.
There is a psychological difference between the numbers.
For more than 100 years, halfbacks have been the chiefs in rugby league. Plenty in the game has changed but not that.
The Broncos thrived when Hunt was missing at times last season, but not because of Nikorima's elevation.
Milford took on more responsibility. He became the boss of the Broncos knowing Nikorima was only playing second fiddle as a reserve halfback.
The scenario is different this season.
With Nikorima being his only option, Bennett has spent the past six months trying to fill the former bench utility with the confidence needed to play a position he is not ready for.
In an interview with Milford recently, he told me there was no playmaking boss at the Broncos.
"No, we share the load equally," he said of his combination with Nikorima.
"We take a lot of pressure off each other which makes our games easier and our heads clear."
The problem for Brisbane is democracies don't win premierships.
The Broncos need a boss and Milford is the man. His $1 million-a-season salary demands that, regardless of whether he accepts it.
In 2014, rookie NRL coach Paul Green was fighting to guide the Cowboys to the finals in his first season at the helm.
After 15 rounds the Cowboys were sitting 11th on the ladder when Green bit the bullet and shifted Johnathan Thurston from five-eighth to halfback.
The Cowboys went on to win eight of their last 10 matches and finished fifth.
The following year, with Thurston in the No. 7 jersey, North Queensland claimed its first NRL premiership.
Broncos legend Darren Lockyer admitted Milford needed to think like a No. 7.
"I looked at when Green put Thurston back to seven," Lockyer said.
"It's a mindset thing, 'I've got the seven on so I'm on the ball and calling the ball more regularly than the six'.
"There is more responsibility on Milf. Even though he is not wearing the seven, most people perceive him as the guy that is.
"If Anthony is not wearing the seven jersey then he needs to think like one. He needs to be thinking he is the man on the ball or calling the ball."
Or Milford could wear the No. 7 and play the role he is being paid to play.