Raiders star Anthony Milford. Photo: Graham Tidy
Canberra legend Ruben Wiki has urged Raiders rookie Anthony Milford to choose carefully before deciding on a move back to Brisbane, insisting the ''distractions'' of home may hamper his development.
Milford is weighing up whether to remain with the Raiders next year, or move back to Queensland for family reasons.
The 19-year-old won Canberra's Mal Meninga medal after a superb debut NRL season, but the Broncos are his likely suitors if he activates a compassionate clause in his contract.
Ruben Wiki in his time at the Raiders. Photo: Getty Images
Wiki, New Zealand's most capped player, was embroiled in a similar tug of war in 1995 when he won a court battle to stay with the Raiders after also signing a deal with the Warriors.
He eventually joined the Warriors as a senior statesman 10 years later, but he credits battling homesickness head on and sticking with Canberra as a youngster for his career longevity.
''He [Milford] needs to stay away from it [home]. I think he needs to be away from those distractions,'' Wiki said.
''With my decision, I was in a foreign country and missing home, but I stayed in Canberra and it worked out for the best.
''If I went home, I reckon I would have caught up with my mates and took a casual approach.
''In Canberra I trained a lot on my own with no one looking, it would have been harder to do that with family and friends always wanting to go out.
''Just being out of that environment kept me straight.''
Milford is being earmarked as Brisbane's playmaking saviour following the retirement of Scott Prince and Peter Wallace's move to Penrith.
''I think he needs to consult someone about those pressures and whether he's ready for it. Someone who's going to give him the right advice,'' Wiki said.
''There's going to be a lot of hype on Tony in Brisbane, he's got to take that into account.''
Milford and Raiders teammate Josh Papalii were caught drinking just two days before a crucial round-25 clash against the Warriors in Auckland this year.
Both revealed they were trying to ''escape'' the spotlight after their whirlwind rise to NRL stardom.
Wiki said Polynesian players battling personal issues needed more help from the NRL following the deaths of up-and-coming youngsters Mosese Fotuaika and Alex Elisala this season.
''There should be more awareness of these young kids, who need guidance with the peer pressures of alcohol and drugs and girls,'' Wiki said.
''I think they need a 'big brother' system in the NRL, and especially in Australia if they're having troubles, someone they can talk to.
''Polynesian kids like to keep things to themselves, then all of a sudden things are happening we can't control, which is sad.''