Kodi Nikorima and Anthony Milford. The Brisbane Broncos training at Red Hill. Pic Peter Wallis
Kodi Nikorima and Anthony Milford. The Brisbane Broncos training at Red Hill. Pic Peter Wallis

Bennett won’t sign new Broncos halves

WAYNE Bennett has declared he won't be raiding the open market as the Broncos coach pledged to keep faith in his first-choice halves Kodi Nikorima and Anthony Milford.

The seven-time premiership-winning coach is under pressure to wield the axe after Brisbane's attack again struggled for cohesion in the Broncos' 15-10 loss to the Knights on Saturday night.

Brisbane have scored just 69 points in five matches at an average of 13.8 per game, a significant drop on their mark of 23.4 last season when the Broncos were regarded among the NRL's entertainers.

Brisbane's playmaking spine has lacked fluency from the opening round, with Milford and Nikorima still developing an understanding following the departure of halfback Ben Hunt to the Dragons.

Milford showed some superb touches against the Knights, producing nine tackle busts, three line-breaks and a solo try, but there are concerns his No. 7 Nikorima is going missing and struggling for control.

Brisbane's back-up playmaker is Troy Dargan, an unproven 20-year-old from the Parramatta Eels, but Bennett says he won't be panic buying, adamant Nikorima and Milford will succeed.

"They are young halves and I'm sticking with them," he said.

"It will take time and I'm prepared to invest that time in them. Milford was outstanding (on Saturday night against the Knights).

"I'm not making changes, I have the best players in this club on the field. We just have to play a bit better. The priority is to get the best players on the field and you work from there.

"Kodi is our best option at halfback and I'm confident he can do the job."

Off-contract Melbourne halfback Ryley Jacks has been offered to Brisbane's recruitment chiefs for next season, but Bennett says the club doesn't have the salary-cap space to sign another playmaker.

"I'm not going to the market," Bennett said.

"We don't have the money in the salary cap to go into the market, even if we wanted to.

"I'm confident with the group of players I have. That was our best 80-minute performance of the season (against the Knights).

"We have to start building on that. We were 2-3 last year and we still made the preliminary final so there's no panic from me."

At the same stage last season, Brisbane went on a surge, winning six straight games from round six and eventually finishing the regular season in third.

Broncos and Queensland Origin lock Josh McGuire backed Nikorima and Milford to prove their critics wrong - starting against the unbeaten Warriors this Saturday in Auckland.

"Last year we had Kodi and Milf for a part of the year and they did the job," he said.

"I have all the faith in the world in Kodi and Milf and hopefully it turns next week.

"There's no need to panic, but we do need to start winning games and building some momentum."

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