For a long time Gold Coast prop David Shillington has known Brisbane star Anthony Milford was going to become an NRL match-winner.
Shillington vividly remembers his first encounters with Milford.
The veteran front-rower and other members of Canberra’s first-grade squad were left in awe when a young kid from the Raiders’ under-20 ranks dominated opposed training sessions at the club.
The young upstart was Milford, who has blossomed into a leading playmaker since quitting the Raiders to join the Broncos at the end of 2014.
Shillington, who will face his former teammate in Friday’s Queensland derby at Robina, says Milford’s match-winning display in last weekend’s thriller against North Queensland has put the Titans on red alert.
“He’s so dynamic, if we have players come out of the line and try and solve problems themselves defensively, he’s just gonna dummy and go or put someone through a gap,” Shillington said.
“I remember him carving us up when he was in under-20s and they were doing opposed versus first grade. We were like `who is this guy?’
“It’s funny to see him as a genuine superstar now (but) last week he was the difference, breaking that tackle of Johnathan Thurston and running most of the way to score.
“He’s going to take a lot of stopping. Just keeping a good line on him is going to be the hardest thing. He wants someone to try and shoot out of the line and shut the player down and then he can use his footwork to beat us.
“We’ve got to stick together there.”
Friday’s game is also Shillington’s first taste of an all-Queensland affair.
For an ex-Queensland State of Origin representative, it’s an exciting prospect.
“I’m pumped about this,” Shillington said.
“Playing in Canberra for so long, we never really had any local derbies like this one is on Friday night.
“It’s a Friday night game, it’s versus the Broncos, it doesn’t get any better than that.”