Brisbane coach Kevin Walters has declared Anthony Milford's current form not good enough to earn a new contract at the NRL club.
The first-year coach and a five-time premiership player with the Broncos, Walters insists he's backing the under-fire playmaker and that he's "extremely confident he can get the best out of him".
Brisbane ended a 13-game losing streak by beating Canterbury a fortnight ago but were flogged 40-6 by Melbourne last weekend to immediately reapply the pressure ahead of Thursday's clash with South Sydney.
Milford, on a $1 million-a-year deal that expires at the end of this season, has been challenged to prove he deserves to remain at Red Hill.
"That's a work in progress, (but) right now you'd have to say no," Walters said when asked if Milford was playing well enough to earn a new deal.
"We need to see Milf playing better but I'm extremely confident we can get the best out of Anthony Milford.
"As long as we keep building and getting better, taking the small steps ... if and when I believe that stops happening, well then things will change.
"We're backing him. He's in there having a crack and that's what I like about him, he's fully aware of what's going on and what's required of him."
Injured centre Kotoni Staggs is another high-profile player off contract and has been flagged as an option in the No.6, a bold move that would free up salary cap space by allowing them to let Milford go.
"I see him (Staggs) as a future player here, and we're really keen to hang on to his services," Walters said.
"I'm sure he can play in the back row for us, in the halves and at centre but right now the major focus is just to retain the services of Kotoni."
Walters said they were always looking to bolster their squad but denied the club was especially interested in the services of Adam Reynolds, who has reached a stalemate in his own contract negotiations with the Rabbitohs.
Meanwhile. Walters revealed former Queensland State of Origin winger Corey Oates had shelved his aspirations to become a back-rower.
Walters opted to promote Richie Kennar to replace injured centre Herbie Farnworth.
The coach played down suggestions Oates was on the scrap heap though, saying it was simply a like-for-like replacement, revealing that the 26-year-old had changed tack.
"Corey came to me and said he'd like to go back to the wing," Walters said.
"I'm not going to stand in any player's way. They need to play where they're most comfortable.
"Corey feels that's on the wing so 'away you go son'."
Australian Associated Press