NRL guru Phil Gould has explosively called for the Rabbitohs to be investigated over the contract saga surrounding outcast playmaker Anthony Milford.
The 27-year-old has been in exile since the NRL refused to register his contract with South Sydney in November.
Brutally referred to by fans as Brisbane’s $1 million-per-year flop, Milford now reportedly has a chance to resume his career with the Knights.
However, the NRL is yet to approve his return to the league after he had three assault charges dropped in a Brisbane court on Monday.
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The NRL integrity unit has now launched a fresh investigation into the incident.
Gould on Wednesday spoke passionately in advocating for Milford to be allowed to return immediately, claiming he has seen video footage of the incident and believes the former Queensland State of Origin star has been “wronged”.
On the same day, Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett also spoke publicly to express his disappointment that Milford has not yet ben cleared.
“I cannot believe it if Anthony isn’t allowed back,” Bennett told The Courier Mail.
“Of all the things I have seen in the game and the moments we’ve seen from other players who have offended, I cannot understand it if Anthony is not allowed to play NRL in the very near future.”
After signing with the Rabbitohs on a cut-price deal, Milford was arrested and charged with three counts of assault occasioning bodily harm and one count of wilful damage involving a vehicle.
With the court matter now closed, Gould says the NRL has no reason to delay his registration.
However, the Bulldogs football boss is far more concerned about the circumstances that resulted in Milford’s contract with the Rabbitohs never getting registered.
Gould claims the timeline of the events does not add up.
He claims the Bunnies submitted Milford’s contract to the NRL on August 12 after the document was signed on July 31.
The incident involving Milford occurred in September and he was arrested on September 20.
He claims the Rabbitohs were informed by the NRL there was a clerical error in the contract that needed to be cleared up on August 18.
Gould now says serious questions need to be asked of South Sydney about why the contract was not registered in the period before Milford’s arrest.
“The second thing is the situation of his contract status with South Sydney, and this bears thorough investigation. I don’t think it’s been investigated anywhere near enough,” Gould said on his Six Tackles with Gus podcast.
“I’m not putting any blame on the NRL for this, but I think South Sydney has got a number of questions to answer about their contract situation with Anthony Milford because Anthony Milford’s contract has not been registered.
“Anthony Milford has had no payment, no money, living with his wife and children in a one-bedroom in his parents’ house in Brisbane since last year because he was facing these charges and South Sydney and the league would not register his contract.
“When in fact, the contract should’ve been registered when it was signed on the 31st of July last year.”
He said Milford moved with his family to Sydney expecting to be playing for the Rabbitohs in 2022.
“The contract should’ve been registered in August, six weeks before the alleged incident,” he said.
“South Sydney acted upon the contract and relocated the player. Now they’re saying the league won’t register his contract because of the incident.
“I think there needs to be a fair bit of work on that timeline.”
He went on to say: “I’m not accusing South Sydney of anything, but I think this needs to be thoroughly investigated”.
It has been widely reported the Knights would have a one-year, $150,000 offer ready for Milford to sign, should the NRL approve his return.
The Australian’s Brent Read told Triple M this week Milford also has a deal with Bennett’s Dolphins for the 2023 season waiting for him.
A former million-dollar per-year player with the Brisbane Broncos, Milford was dumped to reserve grade last season and was let go by the Queensland club at the end of last season.
The Rabbitohs and the NRL have been contacted for comment.