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Walters defends Origin move on Milford

Samoa officials are fuming but Queensland under-20s coach Kevin Walters says it was a "simple" decision to select NRL young gun Anthony Milford for this weekend's State of Origin junior clash.
Walters defends Origin move on Milford
by AAP

By Laine Clark

BRISBANE, April 28 AAP - Samoa officials are fuming but Queensland under-20s coach Kevin Walters says it was a "simple" decision to select NRL young gun Anthony Milford for this weekend's State of Origin junior clash.

Instead of running out for Samoa in their Four Nations tournament qualifier against Fiji in Penrith on Saturday night, Canberra playmaker Milford will play in the curtainraiser for the junior Maroons and NSW under-20s.

Under new eligibility rules, the 19-year-old Milford could have played for Samoa in their crunch Test then pledged his allegiance to Queensland and Australia for this year's respective Origin and Four Nations series.

However, Milford reportedly pulled out of the Pacific Test and aligned himself to the Queensland under-20s after being told by Maroons coach Mal Meninga he was a chance of making this year's State of Origin senior squad.

Milford caught Meninga's eye after starring for Samoa at last year's World Cup.

Walters said it was a straightforward decision to pick Milford despite protests from livid Samoan officials.

"We understand there is going to be a lot of discussion around eligibility, but this is a pretty simple one - Anthony is eligible for Queensland, he wants to play for the Maroons and he's been selected," he said.

"Anthony has been right through our pathways, from club football with the Souths Logan Magpies through to the Queensland Academy of Sport squad and various Queensland under age representative teams.

"We are delighted to have Anthony in the Queensland team."

The winner of the Samoa-Fiji Test joins Australia, New Zealand and England in the end-of-year Four Nations tournament.

Four Nations entry would ensure a huge boost in government support, sponsorship and junior numbers for the winning Pacific Island team.

Walters said Milford will have a "leadership role" in the junior Maroons team that also boasts fellow NRL regular, Broncos utility Corey Oates.

"These players are the future of State of Origin," Walters said.

Oates and Milford are part of a nine-strong contingent who will back up from last year's 36-12 loss to NSW.

Queensland under 20s squad: Valentine Holmes (Cronulla), Nene MacDonald (Sydney Roosters), Brenko Lee (Canberra), Brendan Elliot (Sydney Roosters), John Folau (Parramatta), Anthony Milford (Canberra), Jaelen Feeney (Newcastle), Lloyd Perrett (Canterbury), Kierran Moseley (Penrith), Christian Welch (Melbourne), Corey Oates (Brisbane), Patrick Mago (Canberra), Luke Bateman (Canberra). Interchange: Cameron Munster (Melbourne), Francis Molo (Brisbane), Brett Greinke (Brisbane), Joe Ofahengaue (Brisbane), Jayden Nikorima (Brisbane).


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