Broncos rocked by crushing pre-season injury blow
Brisbane's $1 million man Anthony Milford has hit a hurdle ahead of the biggest season of his career after suffering a broken hand in a training mishap.
News Corp can reveal Milford was ordered to undergo scans on his damaged hand in a crushing blow for the Broncos' crucial pre-season under new coach Kevin Walters following last season's wooden-spoon debacle.
It is understood Milford suffered the injury during last week's training camp on the Sunshine Coast.
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Brisbane's highest-paid player looked to be injury-free after training strongly in heavy rain at Red Hill on Tuesday morning, but he was later sent for scans after advising Broncos medical staff of lingering pain in his hand.
Scans later confirmed a fracture that will sideline Milford for four to six weeks, putting him in doubt for Alex Glenn's testimonial trial game against the Cowboys at Redcliffe on February 27.
Walters remains hopeful Milford will get the green light to wear the Broncos' No.6 jumper in Brisbane's premiership opener against the Eels on Friday, March 12.
"We don't know if he will miss the start of the season," he said.
"I can't speculate on how long he could be out. I am leaving it to the doctors and I will know more in the next day or so.
"'Milf' has had strapping on and off (on his injured hand).
"It happened during our camp last week. We did some sessions at Twin Waters and someone stood on his hand during an opposed session.
"It's a bit of a strange one, but injuries happen in rugby league.
"He's a tough bloke, Milf, but all NRL players are tough blokes and they just soldier on."
The injury continues a wretched run of luck for Milford, who battled a niggling hamstring injury last season which ended his 2020 campaign prematurely and restricted him to just 13 of 20 games.
The 26-year-old has also bravely played on in recent seasons with serious shoulder injuries that required reconstructive surgery.
The 2021 campaign is a make-or-break season for Milford. Rated one of the game's most gifted athletes, Milford has struggled for consistency and is playing for his future at the Broncos, entering the final season of a four-year, $4 million deal.
Walters is backing the off-contract Milford to fire this season and the former Queensland Origin utility needs a bumper premiership campaign to convince Brisbane bosses he is worth retaining.
"There's no doubt for me that Milford is one of our key players next season," he said.
"I have worked with 'Milf' in the past and I am aware of just how talented he is and it's up to me and the coaching staff to get the best out of him.
"I honestly feel we haven't seen the best of him. It's up to me to provide the best environment for him to succeed and I'm confident I can do that for Milf.
"I need him to be firing."
Originally published as Broncos rocked by crushing pre-season injury blow