Milford To Emulate Lockyer
Queensland five-eighth Anthony Milford is set emulate his childhood idol when he dons the Maroons' No.6 jersey in Game One of State of Origin on May 31st at Suncorp Stadium.
Milford grew up watching Queensland and Brisbane Broncos legend Darren Lockyer carve up in Maroon, with Lockyer's 36 Origin matches all taking place before Milford had even made his NRL debut.
In fact, Milford was just a 3-year-old kid when Lockyer first represented the Maroons in 1998, meaning that some of Milford's earliest memories are of watching Lockyer glide around the football field.
Fast forward 19 years and it is now Milford's time to shine as he prepares to make his Origin debut in front of a sold out crowd at 'The Cauldron'.
The 22-year-old is still pinching himself over his selection and said he hopes to show some Lockyer-like qualities when he runs out in the series opener.
"It still hasn't really sunk in. It's all happened so quickly and it's pretty surreal. I'm just trying to take every day as it comes," Milford said of his selection.
"I got the call on Sunday night and was pretty stoked I got picked. I told my partner and my parents. I'm really looking forward to the week because it's very exciting. My parents were over the moon.
"I used to watch a lot of Origin as a kid. I loved watching Darren Lockyer play.
"I idolised how competitive he was. He had such a will to win in everything he did and that's what I loved."
Milford has shown his own will to win for the Broncos this season, helping his side get to an 8-3 record and sit in second position on the NRL ladder.
But club land is a whole different story to the Origin arena and he is heeding the advice of some of Queensland's longest serving players to get an idea of what to expect.
Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk are two that Milford has already been talking to; with Brisbane's No.6 not missing out on the opportunity to learn off two of the greatest halves the NRL has ever seen.
"No [there's nothing better than learning off those two]. They are the best in the game for a reason," he said.
"I'm just going to try and pick everything I can out of their brains.
"I need to see what I can take from their game and put it into my game. It'll help me develop as a player."
Named at 18th man because of a shoulder injury, Thurston is still an outside chance to take Milford's place in the Maroons' 17 if he is deemed fit to play.
Despite this, Milford is confident he will be Queensland's five-eighth, with the Acacia Ridge junior preparing as if he is going to play.
"I'm just here to enjoy the week and put my best foot forward. I'm preparing like I'm playing," he said.
"I'm still in the frame whether 'Johno' pulls up sore or not. I'm training like I'm ready to play and that's my mindset."
This article first appeared on NRL.com