Brisbane playmaker Ben Hunt has taken aim at teammate Anthony Milford’s critics ahead of Friday night’s NRL preliminary final against the Sydney Roosters at Suncorp Stadium.
Hunt couldn’t resist reminding cynics of their early assessment of Milford after claiming they had now formed a halves pairing the Broncos could turn to in a crisis.
Milford copped flak for his quiet start as Brisbane pivot this year, with Phil Gould claiming the ex-Canberra fullback was “not mature enough”.
But Hunt was quick to remind everyone 21-year-old Milford had come of age as Brisbane looked to book their first grand final berth since 2006.
“Milf has come on in leaps and bounds each week,” Hunt said.
“He got a lot of criticism early that he shouldn’t have been playing in the halves.
“But I can’t be happier with what he has done this year.
“And he has been a big part of why I have gone so well this year.”
However, the biggest challenge still awaits the pair, who share just seven finals appearances between them.
Hunt said they would nevertheless be backing themselves.
“We have to go into a game with the mindset that if it is a tight game, me and Milf have to get our hands on the ball,” he said.
Hunt had a breakthrough year on debut as starting halfback in 2014.
He said master coach Wayne Bennett had resisted changing Hunt’s winning formula upon his return to Brisbane this season.
“That’s been the best thing about him (Bennett) coming, he hasn’t changed anything about how we play our game,” Hunt said.
“He just advises on different things, on preparation, just little things.”
However, Hunt admitted his game would be scrutinised by Roosters No.1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
“He is up there with some of the top fullbacks,” Hunt said.
“You try and get him away from where you are trying to kick but he is just too fast.
“If you don’t put it on the right spot he is there, caught it on the full and is back into you.”