Kodi Nikorima and Anthony Milford have come in for criticism.
Kodi Nikorima and Anthony Milford have come in for criticism.

Broncos hit back over ‘cracking’ halves sledge

BRONCOS coach Anthony Seibold has dismissed criticism of Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima after the Dragons accused Brisbane's halves of cracking under pressure.

St George Illawarra centre Euan Aitken has set the scene for a spicy Round 3 clash on Thursday night at Suncorp Stadium, suggesting Milford and Nikorima can be vulnerable if Brisbane's pack are beaten out of the blocks.

Milford and Nikorima will have vivid memories of the most recent Broncos-Dragons clash last September, with the pair missing a combined 15 tackles in Brisbane's disastrous 48-18 finals loss to the Red V at Suncorp Stadium.

Now the Dragons return to Suncorp desperate to snap a two-match losing streak and Aitken says St George Illawarra are ready to test the mettle of Milford and Nikorima.

"The way we've started against the Broncos in recent times, if we get the jump on them, we can lead from the front really well," Aitken said.

"When they (the Broncos) get put under pressure their halves sometimes crack, so I think that's what important to us.

"Hopefully we can weather the storm with their young forwards and get some points early."

Anthony Milford (C) and halves partner Kodi Nikorima have been accused of ‘cracking’ under the pressure. Picture: AAP
Anthony Milford (C) and halves partner Kodi Nikorima have been accused of ‘cracking’ under the pressure. Picture: AAP
Seibold hit back on Wednesday at Brisbane's captain's run, saying he is so confident in the Milford-Nikorima alliance he has no plans to axe his 24-year-old scrumbase schemers.

"I didn't see that interview (with Aitken) and I'm not sure of the context, but I have alluded a few times to how I trust and value what Kodi and 'Milf' can bring to our group," Seibold said.

"I have a lot of confidence in those two guys and I won't be making any change there unless I have to through injury or suspension.

"They have got the No.7 and No.6 jerseys and I have no doubt they will improve as we progress through the season.

Broncos coach Anthony Seibold has backed his halves to stand up against the Dragons. Picture: AAP
Broncos coach Anthony Seibold has backed his halves to stand up against the Dragons. Picture: AAP

"I do know that unless your forwards are dominant your halves don't have a lot of time.

"We saw last week how it is really tough for halves under pressure and playing out of their end.

"Melbourne did that to us in Round 1, but we were really strong against the Cowboys."

Seibold is wary of the Dragons' playmaking triumvirate Gareth Widdop, Corey Norman and former Bronco Ben Hunt, who terrorised Brisbane in last year's Suncorp massacre.

Seibold believes the Dragons’ overstocked playmaking crew, led by Ben Hunt (L) and Corey Norman (R) is a danger. Picture: Getty
Seibold believes the Dragons’ overstocked playmaking crew, led by Ben Hunt (L) and Corey Norman (R) is a danger. Picture: Getty

"Ben, Corey Norman and Gareth Widdop are three really creative players," he said.

"Ben's weapon in my opinion is his running game.

"Gareth Widdop has been a really good player for a long time and is very good whether he plays fullback or halfback and Corey Norman was a mainstay at Parramatta.

"Those three guys are their key ball players and we need to put them under pressure, but unless we win the middle of the park, which is the big challenge against the Dragons, they are going to have time and space."