This time last year Anthony Milford was banned from State of Origin.
Now the Brisbane playmaker is being groomed as Queensland star Johnathan Thurston’s heir apparent.
Milford capped a remarkable turnaround when he was named as Maroons five-eighth for the May 31 Origin opener, with the recovering Thurston (shoulder) as 18th man.
Milford, 22, will make his Origin debut if Thurston does not overcome the injury he sustained in the trans-Tasman Test and it seems all is forgiven for Milford after the 2016 Emerging Origin camp debacle, when he was among eight players who broke curfew.
Milford held out Melbourne’s Cameron Munster and North Queensland’s Michael Morgan for the starting pivot role in Thurston’s absence.
“We just felt that at the moment, Anthony’s the right choice,” Queensland coach Kevin Walters said.
“We’ve seen in the last couple of years in the NRL what an exciting player he can be and now he gets an opportunity on the big stage.
“I am excited about what he can produce for us on the night.”
Milford’s Origin call-up caps a dream month for the youngster.
Barely two weeks ago Broncos officially confirmed Milford had signed a new four-year deal, reportedly worth $1 million a season.
Milford has also stepped up in the absence of injured halfback Ben Hunt to help Brisbane move to second spot on the NRL ladder with six straight wins.
“I think the blessing in disguise was having Benny out,” Milford told QRL Media.
“It made me take more control of the team and the lead them around the field more. That has helped my game and made me mature a lot.”
Walters said Thurston was “unlikely” to play game one.
“We’re preparing to play the game without Johnathan Thurston.”