All eyes on new Broncos recruit
FEW players are under more pressure to produce something special in 2015 than prized Brisbane recruit Anthony Milford.
The former Canberra Raider will have his first chance to impress when he pulls on a Broncos jumper at the Auckland Nines later this month, and is sure to be one of the marquee entertainers at the lucrative tournament.
After a disappointing return from since-discarded recruit Ben Barba last season, Brisbane has pinned its hopes on the brilliance of Milford, handing him the playmaking role outside halfback Ben Hunt who made his debut for Australia in last year's Four Nations series.
New coach Wayne Bennett will use the Auckland Nines to experiment with his playing roster.
But it's unlikely he will take experienced campaigners like Sam Thaiday or Justin Hodges across the Tasman, instead going into the two-day tournament with mobile duo Alex Glenn and Matt Gillett, and possibly gangly youngster Corey Oates.
The Nikorima brothers, Kodi and Jayden, will also be in Bennett's 18-man squad.
Kodi, pencilled in for full back in the absence of Darius Boyd (Achilles), has already had a taste of the Nines. He was outstanding last year when the Broncos lost the final to the Cowboys.
Meanwhile, the Queensland Rugby League will hold another player talent camp in Brisbane this weekend to identify future State of Origin stars.
A week after Bennett hosted his annual State of Origin emerging players camp in Brisbane, the top prospects from the NRL's U20s competition, and also the statewide Intrust Super Cup, will head into an Emerging Maroons development camp to further strengthen the Origin player pool for years to come.
Queensland lost the 2014 Origin series 2-1 to NSW, its first series defeat in nine years.
The Emerging Maroons camp will replace what was the Junior Emerging squad, and is seen as a vital extension of Queensland coach Mal Meninga's plans.
Emerging Maroons squad: Jai Arrow (Brisbane), Luke Bateman (Canberra), Jordan Drew (Brisbane), Jayden Nikorima (Brisbane), Joe Ofahengaue (Brisbane), Marion Seve (Wests Tigers), Coen Hess (Cowboys), Brenko Lee (Canberra), Ashley Taylor (Brisbane), Lindsay Collins (Brisbane), Patrick Kaufusi (Cowboys), Nene MacDonald (Roosters), Lloyd Perrett (Bulldogs), Kierran Moseley (Titans), Cameron Munster (Storm), Corey Oates (Broncos), Brendan Elliot (Roosters), Patrick Mago (Canberra) Kane Elgey (Titans), Kyle Feldt (Cowboys), Ethan Lowe (Cowboys, Shaun Nona (Storm), Javid Bowen (Cowboys), Hymel Hunt (Storm), Sam Hoare (Cowboys), Blake Leary (Manly).