Even Johnathan Thurston was in awe of Anthony Milford’s field goal prowess after the Brisbane pivot sealed a thrilling 21-20 golden point win over North Queensland in the NRL grand final rematch.
Cowboys co-captain Thurston knows a thing or two about crunch kicks after last year’s grand final extra-time heroics.
And Thurston again lived up to his reputation for clutch plays when he sealed a sideline conversion with seconds left on the clock to send the grand final re-match into golden point at a packed Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
But it was Milford who stepped up to the plate at the death, sinking a 40m field goal with 18 seconds left in extra-time’s first period.
Thurston admitted a Queensland State of Origin nod was only a matter of time for Milford after watching the livewire Broncos pivot seal a man of the match display with the field goal.
The only thing stopping Milford from threatening Michael Morgan for a Queensland utility bench spot this year is a 12-month Origin ban for breaking curfew at this year’s Emerging Maroons camp.
Thurston believes the sky is the limit for his Brisbane nemesis.
“He has a big future in front of him and representative teams aren’t too far off for him,” Thurston said.
“He’s provided one of the highlights of the season so far.
“He’s very difficult to tackle, a danger every time he runs the ball.”
Wayne Bennett admitted Milford would have won the 2015 Clive Churchill Medal if Thurston’s trusty boot had not snatched victory away from Brisbane in the grand final, on Friday night it wasn’t in question.
Milford backed up a James Roberts bust to score in the 22nd minute and give Brisbane a 10-0 lead.
Then Milford returned the favour, stepping Thurston to break the line and send Roberts try-bound in a stunning 80m effort that gave Brisbane a 20-18 lead in the dying minutes before the Cowboys co-captain locked up the scores with a penalty goal.
Milford also shone in defence, single-handedly holding up Ethan Lowe over the line in the 34th minute.
Former Gold Coast strike centre Roberts was sensational, amassing 209m in a breakout game for Brisbane.
But Milford was the name on everyone’s lips post-match.
“I think there is no doubt if we had won the grand final he would have got the Clive Churchill Medal, he was outstanding,” Bennett said of Milford.
“He was great again here.
“We all enjoy watching him play, he is very talented.”