(AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Growing up in public isn't easy - just ask Anthony Milford.
But Wayne Bennett believes the Brisbane five-eighth will finally come of age as an NRL playmaker in the 2018 season.
Milford will make his official return from shoulder surgery in the Broncos' season opener against St George Illawarra on Thursday night, starting his new $4 million, four-year deal.
At 23, Milford is under pressure to live up to his marquee billing in his sixth NRL season after battling for consistency under the spotlight in the past.
However, coach Bennett said there were telltale signs in the pre-season that Milford was ready to step up.
"His on and off field attitude suggests to me he is ready to take on a bit more responsibility but that is just part of growing up," Bennett said.
"Some of these guys are so young with so much talent that we forget that they also have to grow up but Anthony is coming along really well.
"He is a little bit older. His playing would suggest he is maturing a lot each year.
"I am sure he will take more (steps) this year."
Milford underwent off-season surgery, forcing him to miss the Rugby League World Cup.
He has only been given 40 minutes in a trial - albeit against the hard-hitting PNG Hunters - to test his recovering shoulder.
But Bennett gave Milford a clean bill of health, saying a new and improved playmaker would emerge in 2018.
He said Milford had worked on game management and his kicking game in the off-season.
"He is only going to get better at that over time," he said.
"He has trained very well and has a clear vision about what he wants to do."
Milford will combine in the halves with Kiwi international Kodi Nikorima who has taken over the Broncos No.7 jersey from Dragons recruit Ben Hunt.
© AAP 2018