NRL clubs desperate for a playmaker will have no doubt already made inquiries about Anthony Milford who took a step towards being cleared for a return to the NRL this week.
Milford was charged with three counts of assault following an incident in Brisbane last September, but that case against him was dropped on Monday.
CCTV footage of the incident showed Milford picking up and throwing a bin, which damaged a nearby vehicle, out of anger after being attacked by two women, who punched him.
Milford did, however, plead guilty to public nuisance and willful damage. He was found but no conviction was recorded.
However, the NRL are reportedly set to launch their own investigation which will have to be completed before they decide on whether he can be registered by any clubs.
Wayne Bennett coached Milford at the Broncos when the club made the 2015 grand final and he’s keen to bring the five-eighth to the Dolphins.
But the Dolphins don’t enter the competition until next year, which means there’s an opportunity for Milford to join an NRL team for the rest of this season.
Here are the clubs who are currently in need of a playmaker.
Milford played 151 games for the Broncos between 2015 and 2021 before he was released by Kevin Walters and signed with the Rabbitohs for 2022.
However, following his arrest in September the NRL refused to ratify his contract until the matter was resolved in court. Souths eventually released him.
Brisbane have struggled in the halves for the past three years so they signed halfback Adam Reynolds on a big-money deal to solve the issue.
But the problem remains that the Broncos don’t have a game-breaking No. 6 to compliment Reynolds – who is an organizer.
Albert Kelly and Billy Walters have been serviceable in the role this season without lighting the world on fire.
If the coach can swallow his pride and bring back Milford on short-term deal, he might just provide a solution that sees the Broncos breaking back into finals footy this season.
Newcastle was keen to sign Luke Brooks over the summer following the unexpected departure of veteran halfback Mitchell Pearce.
The Tigers refused which saw Dragons discard Adam Clune and ex-Cowboys half Jake Clifford handed the playmaking reins.
The Knights started the season strongly with wins against the Roosters and Tigers, but they’ve lost their past three games.
Compounding the Knights’ problems is their casualty ward has ballooned to nine players with Clune in doubt to face the Dragons this week.
Clune injured his knee against the Sea Eagles last week but the halfback will delay surgery and attempt play through the pain.
Phoenix Crossland will partner Jake Clifford if Clune is ruled out, and the Knights would certainly be looking to pick a player like Milford right now if he was on their books.
Veteran reporter Brent Read told NRL Tonight that the Knights have contacted the NRL to find out if a potential Milford contract would be rubber-stamped.
There’s a reason South Sydney signed Milford in the first place – so he could help ease young gun Lachlan Ilias into the rigors of NRL footy.
Back in September, there was no guarantee Ilias would be handed the No. 7 jersey which Adam Reynolds had just left vacant.
Milford could easily have impressed enough over the pre-season to be handed first crack at halfback, despite being a five-eighth.
Milford would have at the very least been used as a utility off the bench and taken some pressure off Ilias and Cody Walker when he entered games.
Fast forward five rounds into the season and Souths problem isn’t Ilias, it’s their veteran playmaker Walker.
Walker is still without a try assist in 2022, which is remarkable considering he led the NRL in try assists last season and also broke the record for linebreak assists.
Blake Taaffe is another option in the halves but now that Latrell Mitchell (hamstring) is out until Round 13, he’ll play fullback.
Milford has plenty of X-factor when playing at his best – as he showed at the Broncos in 2015 – and would be worth signing on a cheap deal.