Broncos avoid scare in PNG trial win

Three tries in 10 minutes have helped Brisbane avoid blushes and celebrate pivot Anthony Milford's injury return with a 26-12 trial win over PNG Hunters in Port Moresby.

Regular pivot Milford was named on the bench in his first match back from shoulder surgery but quickly stamped his authority alongside halves partner Kodi Nikorima after a first half scare.

Milford was a surprise selection by coach Wayne Bennett, bolstering a near full strength Broncos outfit minus prized recruit Jack Bird (shoulder), recovering hooker Andrew McCullough (knee) and skipper Darius Boyd (hamstring).

But the NRL heavyweights didn't have everything their own way against the reigning Queensland Cup champions who showed no signs of rust in their first and only trial before launching their title defence.

The hosts grabbed a surprise 12-6 halftime lead after Watson Boas scored off a grubber just before the break.

But just as the passionate locals dared to dream of an upset against arguably the PNG's most popular club side, normal service resumed.

Trial skipper Alex Glenn (48th minute) and Korbin Sims (54th) crossed in quick succession before Jordan Kahu (58th) delivered the body blow, scoring off a sublime flick pass by backrower Jaydn Su'A and suddenly it was 20-12 to the visitors.

Former Queensland winger Corey Oates - trialling as a bench backrower in the pre-season - completed the blowout when he crossed before fulltime.

Bennett sprung a surprise when he started prop Sam Thaiday at hooker, benching Todd Murphy who is eyeing McCullough's vacant No.9 jersey for their March 8 season opener against St George Illawarra.

It may be a sign of things to come against the Dragons with Bennett using the same ploy of starting Thaiday at hooker last year after McCullough broke down with a serious knee injury in round 21.

Brisbane flyer Jonus Pearson opened the scoring in the seventh minute but the hosts were quick to respond and locked up the scores by the 25th.

It was an encouraging hit out for the Hunters, who begin their title defence in two weeks against the Ipswich Jets in Moresby.