While Anthony Milford has downplayed his chances of breaking into the Queensland State of Origin side any time soon, coach Kevin Walters begs to differ.
Just weeks after being announced as Mal Meninga’s replacement, Walters on Saturday took hold of the reins in earnest, putting the Emerging Origin squad through the paces at the Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre in Brisbane.
Milford was one of three playmakers among the 20-man squad, along with Brisbane teammate Ben Hunt and Canterbury’s Moses Mbye, and Walters said he was very much in the selectors’ minds as they planned their 2016 campaign.
Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk have a mortgage on the starting halves positions and Michael Morgan will prove difficult to displace from the bench utility role after a stellar debut series in 2015.
However, one or two injuries in the opening three months of the new season could lead to Milford earning his first Maroons jumper.
Milford enjoyed a strong 2015, helping guide Brisbane to the grand final.
The Broncos’ No.6 earlier this month declared he was not ready for the Origin arena, however Walters respectfully disagreed and said he would be be in the frame if he continued on his upward trajectory.
“I’ve got a different opinion to Anthony, which is the opinion of a lot of people in Queensland,” Walters said on Saturday.
“He had a great season last year in a lot of ways and, if he continues to improve the way that he has the last couple of years, he’s got Origin written all over him. Blind Freddy can see that.”