Choose One | Nathan Cleary, Anthony Milford – NRL Supercoach

Updated: July 28, 2016

A hamstring injury to star Cowboys halfback Johnathan Thurston has placed increasing pressure on the halves of many teams.

Panthers rookie halfback Nathan Cleary has firmed as one of the buys of the season before plateauing over the past two weeks. Much the same can be said for out-of-form Broncos five-eighth Anthony Milford.

Milford ignited early on averaging well over 80 before the Origin period. A spate of outs and injuries to Broncos’ outside backs and forwards quickly put a halt to that good form – since round 11, Milford has averaged just 43.

As many teams have at least one of Cleary and Milford, who is the best option to replace ‘JT’? Who is the best option for that third halves spot?

Nathan Cleary
Nathan Cleary 2016

The new Panthers’ playmaker has shown the ability to handle the load, in particular in defence. The majority of Cleary’s base numbers are tackles. This resembles the debut seasons of former Origin Trent Hodkinson and Daly Cherry-Evans.

In Cleary’s favour is the presence of Bryce Cartwright. While the fringe-Blues star has excelled at no.6, Cleary has dominated the playmaking duties, including the kicking game. This is reflected in his creative numbers, the result of a number of try assists from kicks.

While the running game of Cleary and Milford is incomparable, their scoring output is. The addition of the goal kicking duties equates for almost 75-percent of all Cleary’s scoring stats.

Anthony Milford
Anthony Milford 2015:16

The success of the Broncos are the beginning of the season was a team effort. To the delight of Milford owners, it was the five-eighth who often stole the show.

As part of our Milford Explained article last month, the Broncos leant on their forward pack, holding possession and winning field position. The backs including Milford would do the rest. It is that early season formula that is missing from the Broncos over the past two months.

While it is not a case of if, but when the Broncos return to basics and execute – that will also see Milford return to form.

During the golden stretch of games earlier in the season, the Broncos’ livewire posted attacking numbers in excess of 60-points-per-game. While those numbers have fallen, perhaps not as far as some may think, that is due to Milford’s running game.

Since round 11, Milford has averaged 109 meters and 10 runs per game. This has sustained his evasive numbers. As for his creative output, this is a different story. Since round 11, his creative attacking numbers have fallen by 45-percent. Despite such a fall, Milford’s creative figures average out at approximately 35-percent of his scoring at any point in the season.

The Verdict

Nathan Cleary is an easy hold in the halves in spite of a string of less-than impressive games. His goal kicking and the Panthers ability to attack will always keep the Panthers no.7 in the game.

The question remains, is Milford an upgrade?

The statistics say yes. While Milford’s form is questionable, so is the form and output of many of the Broncos. We’ve seen it year after year and it only takes one game for the Broncos to ‘click’ and return to form.

Milford sits firmly behind halves stars Shaun Johnson and Johnathan Thurston. Bryce Cartwright’s duel positional status also pushes ahead of the Broncos playmaker at this point in the season.

Hold faith that Milford will return to form. Statistics show the Broncos five-eighth remains one of the best options in Supercoach and is an upgrade over Cleary at a bargain price tag.

Winner: Anthony Milford

Attacking Stat Breakdown:
Scoring – Try, Goal, Field Goal, Missed Goal, Missed Field Goal.
Creative – Try Assist, Linebreak Assist, Last Touch, Forced Scrum, Kick Regather, Forced Dropout, 40/20.
Evasive – Offload, Ineffective Offload, Tackle Bust, Linebreak.

Have your say. Is Anthony Milford worth the upgrade?
Choose One | Nathan Cleary, Anthony Milford – NRL Supercoach

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