NRL 2022: Magic Round, Anthony Milford return, Newcastle Knights, Kalyn Ponga, contract

Anthony Milford has opened up in a candid interview ahead of his NRL return, revealing the impact Andrew Johns had on his game.

Anthony Milford has opened up in a candid interview ahead of his NRL return, revealing the incredible impact Andrew Johns had on his game as he plots his Knights debut.

Milford, who had played 193 NRL games with the Raiders and Broncos, had initially signed with the Rabbitohs on a one-year deal before being charged with three counts of assault following an incident in Brisbane last September.

Milford has since been cleared of those charges but that South Sydney deal was never registered by the NRL, forcing him to look elsewhere for a lifeline.

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He found it at Newcastle, although Milford admitted in a wide-ranging interview with News Corpthat he never expected to find himself in the Hunter.

“I never thought I would find myself living in Newcastle playing for the Knights,” Milford said.

“It will be weird coming up against the Broncos. The key is to treat it like any other game. I will do my homework on them. They are going pretty well as a team with Adam Reynolds calling the shots so it will be a big test for me.

“Not having played for seven months was a pretty crap feeling to be honest, but this is my chance to help Newcastle turn things around.

“I’m grateful to the Knights for being interested in me at a difficult time in my life. They’ve had my back through this situation when others didn’t. I’m glad the NRL allowed me to come back, provided I did the stuff they wanted me to do and I’m doing that.”

Milford revealed that some advice from legendary Knights halfback Johns could help take his game even further after a long layoff.

“I’ve met ‘Joey’. It’s blown me away,” Milford said.

“I’ve had a few sessions with him and his football brain is amazing. He knows the game inside out and I am listening to him really closely and watching the things he is trying to teach me and Kalyn.

“It’s pretty cool for my education to work with an Immortal like Joey.”

While the Knights picked up a much-needed win on Friday against the Bulldogs, the challenge now will be to build on that victory.

The key to doing so lies in not being so reliant on Kalyn Ponga in attacking field position and Milford said he can help there.

“I can’t wait to play with Kalyn,” he said.

“I think I can help him out and we can bring out the best in each other and if we do that it will help the team. Kalyn is a special talent, but there are other players here with real potential at the Knights.”

Milford admitted that it was “disappointing” when his South Sydney deal was not registered with the NRL, revealing that it left him stranded and with his future uncertain.

“I got down there on a Tuesday, I went for a medical on Wednesday and I was meant to be registered on Thursday, but that’s when I found out I couldn’t be registered,” Milford said.

“I ended up working one-on-one with one of the trainers who did some basic training with me.

“I was stuck in Sydney with the Covid situation. We had about three weeks in Sydney where I was on my own and I wasn’t getting paid, so I had to sort things out.

“I was staying in an apartment in Surry Hills for a few weeks, but then when things fell apart with Souths and the NRL, I was left nowhere.

“When the borders were opened again, I was on the first flight back to Queensland.”

Now Milford is ready to start a new chapter in his career at Newcastle, although he admits his manager has had “some talks” with the Dolphins and former Broncos coach Wayne Bennett.

“But my only focus right now is the Knights and let’s see what happens,” he added.

“I’m not even looking that far ahead with the Dolphins. I am appreciative of the chance the Knights have given me and I want to make sure I repay their faith first. I have another chance now and I can’t waste it.”

Originally published as Anthony Milford opens up on ‘crap’ seven-month exile ahead of NRL return

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