BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 20: Anthony Milford of the Broncos kicks the ball during the round 20 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Canterbury Bulldogs at Suncorp Stadium on July 20, 2017 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

It was almost inevitable, but we’ve already had our first big name withdrawal from the upcoming season-ending World Cup.

Wayne Bennett has announced that star half Anthony Milford will be having surgery as soon as the Broncos season ends, which will rule him out of the competition.

Although Milford is an outside chance of representing Australia, he would certainly have been selected for Samoa in the halves, and would have been their marquee selection.

Bennett has quashed any chance of that happening by making the announcement.

Milford has been hampered by the injury for many weeks now and needs the surgery, but given that Milford has managed thus far, a few more games wouldn’t hurt.

But why should Brisbane assume the risk?

Sure, for the good of the game, Milford should run out for Samoa. A player of his abilities brings Samoa much closer to the three bigger nations. He’s a genuine game breaker and possibly the difference between Samoa making the finals or missing out.

But again, why should Brisbane assume the risk?

They pay Milford, reportedly, around a million dollars from next season on. Given Ben Hunt’s move to the Dragons, neither Nikorima nor Bird is yet in the position to assume the lead play-making role.

As a fan of Rugby League, I’m filthy that Milford won’t be there on the supposed biggest stage of them all. I guarantee you he won’t be the one name to miss the tournament despite probably being able to suit up.

That said, if I were a fan of the Broncos, his chief employers, I’d 100% want him in for surgery the day after Mad Monday celebrations, meaning he’d be available for the Broncos pre-season as early as possible.

There’s almost certainly going to be an injury in the World Cup that sees a club side feel the pain in 2018. Why would any club add to those chances by allowing an injured player to risk further damage being done?

The Broncos, if they were to be sans Milford for the opening month next season as a result of damage done in the World Cup, would certainly be disadvantaged.

No amount of good will created as a result of Milford’s heroics for Samoa would make up for that.

I don’t really like the fact that it’s already been announced that Milford won’t be available, but I can completely understand it, and even support it.

That said, if we start seeing clubs stand in the way of their players representing second tier nations en mass, surely questions will need to be asked.

The World Cup needs its very best players available.

Samoa, Fiji, Scotland etc all need their best players available.

Players pulling out with phantom injuries is what killed the annual City/Country clash.

For the World Cup to flourish it needs to be protected, and the best players made available.

But it’s going to have to do without the Broncos superstar number six.

Please let us know your thoughts on players being pushed towards sitting out the World Cup for the good of their club sides.

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