Queensland coach Kevin Walters has joked that he will send a box of chocolates in a bid to convince Wayne Bennett to release Anthony Milford for their State of Origin camp.
But Brisbane coach Bennett was deadly serious about stopping Milford, saying he would only make him available for Maroons duty if the Broncos five-eighth was picked in Queensland’s top 17.
Walters is on Monday expected to name Milford as 19th man in Queensland’s squad for May 31’s series opener as cover for pivot Johnathan Thurston (shoulder).
A tug of war over Milford loomed when Bennett mentioned his stance before the Broncos playmaker shone in their 36-0 NRL win over Wests Tigers on Friday night.
Walters would not bite when told of Bennett’s comments on Friday night as he watched the Broncos romp nome as a Fox Sports TV commentator.
“I have got a box of chocolates for Wayne to drop off to his place,” Walters joked.
“But Milford is one of those players in the firing line just if Thurston doesn’t pass his medical.”
Bennett dug his heels in about Milford when asked about the five-eighth’s Origin availability after the Broncos rout.
He reiterated that Milford would travel with Brisbane for their next round clash with the Warriors if named on a Maroons extended bench.
Bennett said back-up playmaker Michael Morgan’s expected presence at the Maroons camp would ensure Queensland “don’t lose anything” if Milford was not present.
“My position is extremely firm on that,” he said.
“They have Morgan there.
“If he (Milford) doesn’t go and train with them they don’t lose anything.
“We’ve got a game in Auckland next week, that’s our priority.”
Bennett did expect to lose up to six players to Queensland duty.
Walters is expected to name Melbourne’s comeback king Billy Slater at fullback, shifting incumbent Maroons No.1 and Brisbane skipper Darius Boyd to the left wing.
Bennett said Boyd should be retained at fullback.
“The way the coach is talking they will stick with him at either wing or fullback,” Bennett said of Boyd.
“They have just got to make a decision. Billy is still great, but they play different games.
“Darius is what you are looking for. You just have to go back to last year’s series, the amount of tries he set up in really tight situations.
“He does it better than anyone else…and he’s safe. Look at the stats and see how many mistakes he has made.”