Anthony Milford's return edges closer after Newcastle lodge contract with NRL to sign five-eight

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Anthony Milford’s return edges closer after Newcastle lodge contract with NRL and are ‘hopeful’ five-eight can play this season…as Souths boss says it’s time to allow former Bronco to ‘play some footy’

The saga surrounding Anthony Milford’s future has taken a new twist, with Newcastle formally lodging a contract with the NRL in a bid to fast-track the five-eight’s return.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the Knights on Thursday notified Rugby League Central of their intention of signing the 27-year-old and formally processed all the required paperwork. 

The Knights are said to be keen to sign the player on a six-month deal until the end of the season. 

Newcastle have lodged a contract with the NRL to sign Anthony Milford until the end of the season after the former Broncos' well-documented legal issues

Newcastle have lodged a contract with the NRL to sign Anthony Milford until the end of the season after the former Broncos’ well-documented legal issues 

‘We have lodged a contract for Anthony Milford and we are waiting to hear back from the NRL,’ the club’s recruitment chief, Clint Zammit, said. ‘Hopefully Anthony can play for us this season.’ 

The ball is now firmly in the NRL’s court. The league made clear it would wait until a club attempted to sign Milford before making a decision on his future due to the Samoa international’s well-documented legal issues.

Milford was charged with three counts of assault occasioning bodily harm and one count of wilful damage, after being arrested in the early hours on September 20 following reports of a disturbance on Marshall St in Fortitude Valley in Brisbane’s nightlife precinct.

On Monday, however, the charges were dropped after he pleaded guilty in Brisbane Magistrates Court to one count each of public nuisance and wilful damage. 

Milford (pictured arriving at Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday) had assault charges against him dropped but pleaded guilty to public nuisance and wilful damage

Milford (pictured arriving at Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday) had assault charges against him dropped but pleaded guilty to public nuisance and wilful damage

While Milford has been cleared, the NRL is understood to have been far from impressed with the incident and turned down a request from the Knights for the Queenslander to train with the club.

‘This is another example of where the NRL’s process of registration is completely flawed,’ Rugby League Players’ Association boss Clint Newton said.

‘It comes back to the process between the NRL and the player being backwards.

‘It should be transparent to anyone much earlier whether the NRL would go down an integrity unit route, sanction the player or provide a clear way back so they can appropriately plan for their career.’

Milford had assault charges against him dropped by the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday, but the NRL has launched its own investigation anyway

Milford had assault charges against him dropped by the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday, but the NRL has launched its own investigation anyway

His six-month exile from the game has so far cost him approximately $175,000 in wages. 

According to report, Milford is now expected to undergo a program of education and training before he can make his return to professional footy – although the Knights’ request for him to train with the club may now be granted. 

Meanwhile, Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou has urged the NRL to allow the five-eight to return to rugby league.

Demetriou was meant to be reunited with Milford, whom he worked with as Brisbane’s assistant coach for two seasons in 2017 and 2018, in Sydney this season after the latter signed a one-year deal in July last year after being released by the Brisbane Broncos. 

Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou has urged the NRL to allow Milford back in the game

Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou has urged the NRL to allow Milford back in the game

Milford’s plans to resurrect his career with South Sydney in 2022 never got off the ground, as he was arrested less than two months later as the NRL steadfastly refused to ratify the deal until at least one of his alleged assault charges was resolved.  

‘Anthony got himself into an incident he didn’t need to get himself into, but he’s done his time,’ Demetriou told the Sydney Morning Herald.

‘He and his family have paid a really heavy price, and the NRL should look to register him and let him play some footy.

‘A lot has gone on during that time here at Souths, but if a club like Newcastle are keen to sign him, I don’t see why anyone is stopping him.

‘He’s only 27, he’s a 10-year player, someone who earned $1 million a season, played in grand finals, played Origin and has given the game so much. It’s time for the game to support him as well. He’s paid his dues – let the kid play some footy.’

 

 

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