He can’t be picked for Queensland. And he will be ignored by Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga.
But Wayne Bennett still gushed over Anthony Milford’s future ahead of a match that will be a crucial gauge for representative selectors.
Ladder leaders Brisbane host an out-of-sorts South Sydney on Friday night at Suncorp Stadium.
The match will pit Brisbane’s Darius Boyd against Rabbitohs captain Greg Inglis in a clash that might determine the Test and Queensland No.1 positions.
State of Origin claims will also go on the line for Brisbane winger Corey Oates (Queensland) and Rabbitohs No.7 Adam Reynolds (NSW).
But the name on Bennett’s lips is someone who won’t feature in Tests or Origin calculations – Milford.
The livewire pivot was slapped with a 12-month Origin ban for breaking curfew at the Emerging Maroons camp.
And Meninga has ruled out picking any rookies for next month’s one-off Test with New Zealand.
Bennett still expected great things from Milford, saying his masterclass in last round’s 53-0 win over Newcastle was the start of bigger things to come.
“He’s 22. I have to assume he’s got a fair amount of improvement left in him,” Bennett said.
“That will come with time and experience playing at this level.
“You’ve seen how far he has come already – it’s just the tip of the iceberg at the moment.”
Master coach Bennett baulked at taking credit for helping ex-Canberra fullback Milford blossom into a world-class pivot.
“The stuff he has, that is God given – no coach can teach that,” he said.
“He’s pretty much a free spirit.
“You don’t want to interfere with that.
“He’s got the smarts. You don’t want to give him too many instructions.”
Bennett raised eyebrows last season when he slotted Milford into five-eighth.
Asked if he was pleased with Milford’s transformation, Bennett said: “I am pleased I didn’t listen to what all you lot had to say.”
Back-rower Alex Glenn (hip) is out, ensuring Herman Ese’ese will make his Broncos debut off the bench.
Brisbane are vying to become the first team since (the then) Eastern Suburbs in 1919 and second only in history to keep their opposition scoreless for three straight weeks.
KEY FACTS – BRONCOS V RABBITOHS:
* Brisbane have conceded the fewest points (10.4 per game), least tries (1.7 per game) and the second fewest line breaks (2.4 per game) this season
* Brisbane have won 15 of their past 18 Suncorp Stadium matches including their past six
* South Sydney have lost four of their past five matches, but they have won 10 of their past 14 games in Queensland