Crash Tackle: Broncos unlock Milford mystery

 

Robert Craddock runs the rule over an action-packed NRL weekend. Here's who's onside and offside after round 9.

ONSIDE

MINING MILFORD

The Broncos may have found a clue in how best to manage Anthony Milford ... don't manage him much at all.

Milford was given permission to depart from the Broncos traditional game plan and snatch at any opportunity that flashed before his eyes against the Bulldogs on Saturday.

The result was a brilliant piece of ad hoc play when he kicked wide on the third tackle into vacant acreage, enabling Jamayne Isaako to score a wonderful try. Expect more of these spur-of-the-moment surges.

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Anthony Milford (6) had his best performance since the season restart. Picture: Albert Perez/Getty
Anthony Milford (6) had his best performance since the season restart. Picture: Albert Perez/Getty

MICHAEL'S MESSAGE

Michael Jordan handed down the tip and the Broncos cashed in by following it for their drought-breaking win against the Bulldogs.

The Last Dance series featured basketball icon Michael Jordan escaping to the golf course during one particularly pressurised stint and explaining why such a break from departure is occasionally essential.

"That's good coaching by Phil (Jackson) - he knew we needed a break,'' Jordan said as he puffed on his trademark cigar.

"A young coach would probably have a practice day today and you would have had some mean guys."

Easing off in pressurised times worked for Jordan, and the Broncos certainly seemed a fresher side against the admittedly legless Bulldogs after an unscheduled early week round of golf.

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THE SAGE VOICE

The possibility of Ben Ikin becoming the new chief executive of the Broncos is an exciting one for the club.

Ikin has experience in the business world outside rugby league, is well-connected to the old boys and media because he is part of both groups, and knows Brisbane and the game from top to bottom.

There will be plenty of well-credentialed hats in the ring but if Ikin is available he shapes as an ideal candidate.

 

Ben Ikin is a candidate replace Paul White at the end of the year.
Ben Ikin is a candidate replace Paul White at the end of the year.

 

ECHOES OF ARTIE

Tevita Pangai's frequent suspensions may drive the fans mad but his ability to slip away a pass is truly freakish.

Even Arthur Beetson, an acknowledged master of the art, would surely have shaken his head in bewilderment and admiration when Pangai somehow slipped a pass away for a late try against the Bulldogs despite being barrelled into touch by three defenders. It was one of six offloads for the night from Pangai who claims he does not practice the skill he learnt from backyard football.

 

Tevita Pangai Junior and Luke Thompson had a running battle. Picture: Albert Perez/Getty
Tevita Pangai Junior and Luke Thompson had a running battle. Picture: Albert Perez/Getty

 

THE HAPPY COACH

It's a rare sight to see a coach flashing a broad grin during an NRL match which is why Justin Holbrook's beaming smile during the first half of the Titans win against the Warriors caught the eye.

It's not a bad thing. The Titans have a lot of challenges ahead and Holbrook will need his sense of humour. Early feedback on his rapport with the players has been encouraging.

OFF-SIDE

CONTRACT JITTERS

No rugby league contract should ever create as much behind the scenes anguish as the one David Fifita will agree to - either with the Broncos or Titans - this week.

The clashes with management, the changing of plans, the flipping and flopping has tied club officials and the Fifita clan in knots.

 

The struggles of a young NRL prodigy. Picture: Annette Dew
The struggles of a young NRL prodigy. Picture: Annette Dew

 

It is no one's fault simply market forces at play but the worry for rugby league is that young players are now being paid on potential rather than disclosed performance and mentally they are not ready to cope with the pressure.

MAD COWS

Something's missing at the North Queensland Cowboys and quest to find it is making Test forward Josh McGuire hopping mad.

"Second half, bloody deja vu isn't it … I'm getting over it to be honest," McGuire told ABC Grandstand after the Cowboys' meek 42-16 loss to the Roosters, sounding very much like a bubbling saucepan about to lose its lid.

Johnathan Thurston, who has made an impressive transition to television commentary with his sometimes hard-hitting, unbiased views, branded his former teammates defence "atrocious". Enough said.

 

Josh McGuire had an honest appraisal of his side’s form. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Josh McGuire had an honest appraisal of his side’s form. Picture: Alix Sweeney

 

NOT ENOUGH

Manly coach Des Hasler did a fine job conveying the club's seven-minute apology to rugby league fans and the wider world for Addin Fonua-Blake's shameful outburst where he called referee Grant Atkins "a r----d".

But it does not change the fact that the two-match suspension and $20,000 fine was not harsh enough nor that the man who mouthed the words should have shown more contrition in the first place.

 

The moment Addin Fonua-Blake hurled a vile sledge at referee Grant Atkins.
The moment Addin Fonua-Blake hurled a vile sledge at referee Grant Atkins.

 

IT'S A JOKE

Mid-season club swaps have become a fact of life but there is a point where it becomes just plain comical.

Dragons Tim Lafai could become the latest St George Illawarra player to vacate the premises and it could happen this week if he joins the Bulldogs who next weekend play - wait for it - the Dragons.

No prizes for guessing who would be asked to speak up on opposition tips at the team meeting.

Originally published as Crash Tackle: Broncos unlock Milford mystery



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