The tug of war for Canberra Raiders sensation Anthony Milford is over.
After months of speculation and conjecture where the emerging superstar would end up next year, Milford confirmed on Monday night he would be honouring his contract to join the Brisbane Broncos until the end of 2016.
The Raiders were always at long odds to convince Milford to change his mind and use the NRL's round-13 clause to renege on the deal.
Milford's announcement comes after the Raiders have conceded 50 points in consecutive games for just the second time in the club's history, getting belted first by the Manly Sea Eagles (54-18) then the New Zealand Warriors (54-12) in Auckland last Saturday.
It allows the Raiders to rid themselves of the constant headlines and questions about the future of one of their brightest talents. Milford's departure will free up money that can go towards St George Illawarra Dragons forward Joel Thompson, but the Raiders are unlikely to be in the market for Bulldogs hooker Michael Ennis, who has been strongly linked to the Sharks.
Milford was the Raiders' player of the year last season and was earmarked as their long-term option at either fullback, where he has played this season, or at five-eighth, where he is most likely going to play at the Broncos.
The Raiders had also moved his parents to Canberra this year in a bid to help him overcome his homesickness, and lobbied third-party sponsors in helping put together a lucrative package reported to be close to $1 million a season.
Raiders chief executive Don Furner said it was disappointing to lose a player of Milford's calibre, and that the club did its best to present him with an attractive offer to stay.
In a short statement released by the Raiders, the 19-year-old said he had agonised over the choice, but didn't elaborate on his reasons for joining the Broncos.
“This was a very tough decision for me and my family and I want to thank everyone at the Raiders for everything they have done for me,” Milford said.
“I’ve been with the club since I was awarded a scholarship at the age of 13. I’m 100 per cent committed to the Raiders for the rest of the season and I look forward to helping the team play well for the rest of the year.”
With Milford's future sorted, the Raiders will turn their focus to breaking their losing slump when they take on the Penrith Panthers at Canberra Stadium on Sunday.
Raiders prop David Shillington said the players remained united despite the recent adversity and he was confident brighter days were around the corner.
"Everything's looking right during the week, we're just having problems transferring that into a good performance on the weekend,'' Shillington said.
"We need to find the answer to that as soon as possible. If we stick together and work hard, that will be the key to us turning it around. There's definitely not a lack of care out there. Our performances haven't been acceptable and hopefully we can make it up to the fans.''