Dearden call-up pressures Brisbane halves

·2-min read

Kevin Walters says he's prepared to drop Anthony Milford for the first time in his Brisbane career after ramping up the pressure on the five-eighth by including Tom Dearden on the bench to face Canterbury on Saturday.

Brisbane's last win came against the Bulldogs in round 10 last year and they now sit equal fourth on the list of longest losing streaks of all-time in the NRL era with 13.

Milford was guilty of several poor defensive efforts in their latest loss to Gold Coast, Walters making the candid call to shift him in defence mid-match to effectively hide the playmaker from rampaging former teammate David Fifita.

Walters confirmed on Friday that Dearden would be promoted from the extended squad to the bench to face the Bulldogs at forward John Asiata's expense.

The coach said the traditional halfback could see time on the field at hooker alongside fellow halves Milford and Brodie Croft, who pipped the 19-year-old for a spot in the opening two rounds.

On about $1 million a season, Milford has struggled to reach the heights of 2015, when he starred in a gutting 2015 grand final loss, but has only missed games through injury.

He's off contract beyond this year but Walters, himself a five-time premiership playmaker for Brisbane, said he was not scared to drop the high-profile No.6.

"We'll make the tough calls. I've had to leave Billy Slater out of a State of Origin side. That's a tough call, that still haunts me," Walters said.

"There's pressure on everyone, not just those two. We need those two to play well as a duo and we've simplified their roles this week, got clear instructions.

"I'm looking forward to seeing how that goes and adding Tom into the mix adds some attacking options we didn't have last week."

The Broncos' losing streak has now stretched beyond 250 days and, while celebrating the retention of backrower Jordan Riki mid-week, they are facing the prospect of highly-touted talent Brendan Piakura following budding fullback Reece Walsh out the door to a rival club.

Walters insists he isn't weighed down by what happened before his off-season arrival and holds hope Piakura has a future at Red Hill.

"I've seen steady improvement from our guys. I look at Melbourne Storm and they've lost two in a row, we've lost two games in a row and all of a sudden it's 'Broncos can't play'," Walters said.

"I'm very confident with the direction we're heading with the players we have."