Darren Lockyer says Anthony Milford is a future State of Origin star as key injuries raise the possibility of Maroons coach Mal Meninga naming the Canberra Raiders fullback as part of an extended squad on Monday.
Milford has signed with the Brisbane Broncos for next season. It has been reported that he considered staying with the Raiders before a chat with Lockyer convinced him to honour his Broncos contract, which can't be registered until round 13 ends on Monday night.
But Lockyer said his talk with Milford was simply advice on changing from fullback to five-eighth, which is what the Broncos plan for Milford in 2015.
The Raiders' clash with the Broncos at Canberra Stadium on Monday will be the first time Milford plays his future club since agreeing to join them.
He's become a genuine chance to make his Origin debut due to injuries to Queensland stars Billy Slater (shoulder) and Greg Inglis (ankle).
Both are desperate to play in Origin II on June 18 and Meninga could name an extended squad to give them every chance to be fit.
The Raiders-Broncos game could then become an Origin audition for Milford, with Lockyer saying the 19-year-old was definitely in the mix.
"Anthony's name is being talked about, but we have to wait to get all the injury updates from all the clubs regarding the players, so Slater, Inglis – if those guys are unavailable then I'm sure someone like Anthony Milford will be discussed," Lockyer said on Sunday.
"There's no doubt Anthony will play Origin at some point. He's a talented kid, he's got a good attitude, it's just a matter of whether he's ready right now.
"Maybe a solid game on Monday night won't hurt his chances, but he's only young and I think it's a big game in terms of how high the stakes are. Again, it's something that needs to be discussed at length."
Lockyer, who started out as a fullback before becoming one of the best five-eighths of all time –including playing in six consecutive Origin series wins with Queensland – said he had told Milford he was happy to give him some assistance.
"Anthony had some questions he wanted to chat to me about, it was more about changing from a fullback to a five-eighth so I just gave him some advice there about my personal experience," he said.
"The Broncos have recruited him to come into that five-eighth role and he just wanted to bounce a couple of things off me in regards to making that transition."
The Raiders have lost four of their last five games and sit in 14th position on the NRL ladder.
They need to beat the Broncos to keep their finals dreams alive and it would also help put a bad week behind them.
Wests fullback James Tedesco backflipped on his decision to join the Raiders after he was signed to replace Milford. Canberra also missed out on Penrith winger Josh Mansour.
Tedesco scored a try for Wests on his return from injury on Sunday, rubbing further salt in the Raiders' wounds.
Lockyer said the NRL needed to change the round-13 rule but he wasn't sure what the answer was.
The former Kangaroos captain said any changes wouldn't help the Raiders now and they needed to let their football do the talking on Monday.
"It just looks messy when you have to wait til round 13 to be a confirmed signing," Lockyer said.
"I think it's something in the game that needs to be looked at because I don't think it's right in its current form.
"Having seen the Broncos go through it with Milford, I just don't think it's the right answer moving forward."
Canberra Raiders v Brisbane Broncos
At Canberra Stadium, 7pm
Tickets available from Ticketek