Newcastle Knights, Anthony Milford contract news: NRL approves star’s return, Brisbane Broncos

Unwanted star Anthony Milford is back in the NRL after the league on Saturday approved his request to join a new club.

Exiled star Anthony Milford is free to sign with the Newcastle Knights after the NRL on Saturday announced the league has granted its approval for the former Bronco to return.

The 27-year-old has been in limbo since the NRL refused to register his contract with South Sydney in November.

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The NRL on Saturday announced Milford is free to take up a deal with the Knights on a “conditional basis” following the club’s formal approach to have his playing contract registered by the league.

The NRL said in a statement Milford will be available to return from Round 11 — upon the completion of education and rehabilitation courses.

Following a turbulent seven years at Brisbane, Milford signed a one-year deal with the Rabbitohs for 2022 but when he was charged with three counts of assault in September, the NRL refused to register the contract.

Two of those charges alleged violence against women, which the NRL said was a major reason it would not consider an application for registration until criminal proceedings had been completed.

Milford’s assault charges were dropped earlier this week.

Following a separate Integrity Unit investigation following the conclusion of the court matter, Milford has now been approved to return to play in the NRL for the first time since September.

It has been widely reported the Knights have had a one-year, $150,000 offer ready for Milford to sign, pending the NRL’s approval.

The Australian’s Brent Read told Triple M this week Milford also has a deal with Bennett’s Dolphins for the 2023 season waiting for him.

A former million-dollar per-year player with the Brisbane Broncos, Milford was dumped to reserve grade last season and was let go by the Queensland club at the end of last season.

Full NRL statement on Anthony Milford return

Following the finalization of Anthony Milford’s matter in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on 11 April, the National Rugby League (NRL) is now in a position to complete its review of the outcomes of the criminal proceedings in which Milford pled guilty to one count of Public Nuisance and one count of Wilful Damage whilst three charges of Assault against members of the public were withdrawn.

The NRL’s review has included a consideration of agreed facts tendered in the proceedings which included that Milford acted in an offensive manner and twice pushed a woman backwards during an incident on a Brisbane street on 20 September, 2021.

On one of those occasions, the facts agreed state that Milford’s actions caused the woman to fall and hit her head on concrete. These are matters which are naturally of serious concern to the NRL.

The NRL did not consider Milford’s registration until the completion of the criminal proceedings and review of those outcomes, including the agreed evidence tendered in court. Taking into account the time Milford has spent out of the game, his application for registration with the Newcastle Knights will now be registered on a conditional basis with mandatory requirements.

Milford’s eligibility to play in the Premiership will be conditional on him successfully completing a series of personal development and tailored rehabilitation programs and ongoing assessments with NRL Wellbeing & Education, including regular updates to the Integrity Unit about his progress.

Milford will be granted conditional registration to train with the Newcastle Knights while he completes these programs, but will not be permitted to play until the programs have been substantially completed, he has been assessed by an appropriate professional, and met with the NRL. He will not be permitted to play before Round 11, providing 4 weeks for the relevant programs and assessment.

The NRL has zero tolerance for any form of violence involving women and will always take serious action in relation to such incidents.

The conditions placed on Milford’s registration take into account the serious nature of the incident and focus on the education and rehabilitation of Milford prior to him being allowed to compete in the Premiership.

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