Brisbane coach Kevin Walters says Anthony Milford's best form came too late to salvage his NRL career at Red Hill and, after a tumultuous transition, expects him to flourish again in the "clean air" of Newcastle.
Milford will return to the NRL for the Knights on Thursday, named at five-eighth to face the club he played for 151 times across seven seasons.
Newcastle signed Milford in April after a move to South Sydney collapsed due to assault charges being laid against him for an alleged incident in Brisbane last September.
The NRL refused to register Milford's one-year deal with the Rabbitohs due to the charges, but he was able to join the Knights after being cleared and will end a seven-month playing drought at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Milford's dynamism carried the Broncos to within one successful tackle of the 2015 NRL title.
But it slowly waned, Walters unable to spark a resurgence when he arrived in the final year of Milford's rich contract last season.
"I thought he had played some good football in the last six weeks of the comp, but Anthony needed to find some new ground, some new air," Walters said.
"He's done that, so we wish him not so much the best tomorrow night, but all the best for his career.
"I'm really happy for Milf (that he's back playing) but we want to make life as uncomfortable as we can for him, we know how dangerous he can be."
On a four-game winning streak for the first time since 2017, the upbeat Broncos will enter unchanged but with injury concerns for fullback Te Maire Martin (hip) and form halfback Adam Reynolds (groin).
Walters said "he'd be very surprised" if Reynolds didn't play.
The Knights' defeat of Canterbury on Friday was the straw that broke the Bulldogs' back, coach Trent Barrett resigning on Monday.
Walters said the club's culture had improved, but that there was a long way to go.
"It's not about keeping a lid on it, it's enjoying what they're doing," he said.
"It's been a good month, but Newcastle will be buzzing.
"You've never turned the corner; the NRL is tough, it's on every week and the mood is good but we have to continue it."
Australian Associated Press
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