The Brisbane Broncos are reportedly quietly pushing star playmaker Anthony Milford out the door as the club faces a daunting roster rebuild.
The Broncos have been left on their knees in the lowest season in the club’s history, compounded by the weekend’s news star forward David Fifita has signed with the Gold Coast Titans.
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Despite repeated denials from Broncos officials, reports have emerged this week Milford has joined Jack Bird, Darius Boyd and Fifita in having their names scratched from the club’s books for 2021.
If the club can find a rival willing to roll the dice on Milford and Bird, more than $3.5 million would be removed from the Broncos’ 2021 salary cap — when combined with Fifita’s departure and Boyd’s retirement.
The Daily Telegraph’s Phil Rothfield first reported the Broncos’ desperate need to ship Milford and Bird to new clubs.
They e got to clear Bird and Milford to get some cap space B4 they do anything. https://t.co/0fy72xFpZ3
And it emerged Tuesday that the club is likely to accept an ugly fate of also paying a significant percentage of Milford’s and Bird’s next contracts at rival clubs.
Channel 7’s Chris Garry told the Broncos Weekly fan podcast, the Broncos are facing the bitter blow of paying up to $1.3 million to see the back of Milford and Bird.
Garry said the Broncos could be forced to pay up to $700,000 of Bird’s reported $975,000 deal for 2021 and up to $600,000 of Milford’s $1 million extension after both players announced their decision to exercise the one-year extensions in their favour earlier this year.
“They’ll deny it, but I don’t doubt for a second that the Broncos would be happy to offload Anthony Milford if they could,” Garry said.
“My money is on Jack Bird and Milford not being at the Broncos next year.”
Milford’s move to fullback failed spectacularly in last week’s loss to Melbourne and he is also in doubt for Friday’s clash with Cronulla after suffering a hamstring injury.
Milford was the hottest prospect on the open market when the Broncos trumped the Melbourne Storm to his signature in 2017. It is very different this time around.
Bird has already been linked with interest from Sydney clubs.
“Jack Bird’s been a disaster for all sorts of different reasons, mainly just bad luck, but he did also come to the club injured,” Garry said.
“I think he wants to go to Sydney next year and the Broncos will make it work, but, gee they are going to have to pay a lot of that wage next year.”
Meanwhile, Garry says the Broncos’ handling of the contract saga with Andrew Fifita is also have likely played into the Titans’ hands.
The Queensland reporter said the first reports earlier this month that Fifita had backflipped on the Titans and told the Broncos he wanted to stay suggests Fifita lost faith in the Broncos as a result of the story leaking to the media.
“I know David was upset about whoever leaked that info,” he said.
“He was really frustrated that that stuff got out. Because it did make him look like an idiot and I understand that.
“I do know that frustrated him and I think that was the start of the end.”
Fifita announced Saturday that he had signed with the Titans on a three-year deal reported to be worth $3.5 million.
Brisbane’s woeful performances this season also harmed the contract negotiations with NRL great Michael Ennis saying it is “alarming” that Fifita would decide to take a gamble on the Titans.
“It is an enormous blow for the Broncos,” Ennis said on the Big League Wrap on Sunday night.
“When you look at those sides that Brisbane had through their golden eras and Wayne Bennett’s mantra was that players stayed there for less because they wanted to be part of the Broncos and to stay to be part of a successful club.
“The fact that David Fifita and someone of his quality doesn’t believe he can achieve his best football at Brisbane is an alarming concern for the coach.”
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