Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett has confronted Benji Marshall over allegations he complained about Anthony Milford's work ethic in the gym.
News Corp's Paul Kent said Milford's efforts leave a lot to be desired, a trait Marshall has noticed.
"He's a guy who enjoys his off-season, he generally comes back and his skinfolds give the medical staff a heart attack," Kent said on NRL 360 on Wednesday night.
"He's also a guy who has lazy habits in the gym and he has to play himself fit ...
"He's a guy that goes in, gets down on the machines in the gym and if you've got to do 10 and nobody's watching, he pumps out eight because nobody's watching.
"Benji Marshall's horrified by it. It's not good enough."
The Courier Mail's Peter Badel reported Bennett was "furious" over the allegation.
Speaking at a press conference after Broncos training, Bennett said Marshall rejected ever making such statements about Milford.
"I confronted a player this morning who allegedly made a comment (about Milford), and he never made that comment, a journalist made it up," Bennett said.
"To be quite candid with you, I'm kind of over a lot of things and a lot of issues that are happening right now in our game,
"On the Anthony Milford issue this morning, I needed to talk to that player. I had to make sure that comment hadn't been made or why it was made.
"But the player assured me, and I believe that player, that he never spoke to the journalist and he never gave him that information."
Bennett has no issues with Milford and said he was fed up with having to deal with unsubstantiated rumours. He referred to reports earlier in the year suggesting he had lost the trust of his players.
"Anthony has a good work ethic," Bennett said. "We don't have a problem with Anthony Milford in any form, shape or manner.
"We've lost the change room, I've lost my aura ... it's just all rubbish you guys are making up and it's getting ridiculous. It's offensive actually in the end.
"There are things that happen in a workplace, there is in-house stuff that should stay in there and we are no different at the Broncos. We have that right to have that.
"I'm quick to jump on this because I'm over where we are going with all this stuff."
Marshall later said he'd taken Milford under his wing, saying he was "pretty impressed" with the five-eighth's off-season.
"They ride him here. He gets ridden here, big time," Marshall told NRL.com. "I've really taken it upon myself this year to take him under my wing and help him train a bit harder and just learn about doing a few things extra.
"I think he is seeing the benefits of some of that but he doesn't get any special treatment. If he did we'd probably bash him to be honest.
"He actually had a big pre-season. I was pretty impressed with how much he trained.
"He cops a lot of flak from people for how big he looks but he still moves pretty good.
"I could name 15 of the best players that ever played that had the same body. Cameron Smith has got a dog's body, there's heaps of people. You don't have to have a mad body to be able to play.
"I've got no problems with the way he trains, I thought he had a pretty big pre-season. He didn't take any short-cuts that's for sure."
MILFORD'S GIANT NEW CONTRACT
Milford is set to become the highest-paid Bronco in history as he prepares to sign a A$2.7 million deal with the Brisbane club in the coming weeks. The Courier Mail is reporting the new contract will keep the five-eighth in Queensland until the end of 2020.
There's no doubting Milford's talent. He's a game-breaker in the mould of Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson who boasts incredible speed and footwork, which is why he's commanding such an imposing price tag.
The Broncos will lose halfback Ben Hunt at the end of this season after the No. 7 signed a big money five-year deal with the Dragons that sees him join the club in 2018. Hunt and Milford led Brisbane to a grand final appearance in 2015 so the 26-year-old's impending departure will have hastened the club's desire to lock up its starting pivot.
Milford and Hunt have struggled to click together this season. An opening round win against defending premiers Cronulla followed by consecutive losses to the Cowboys and Storm sees Brisbane sitting ninth on the ladder after three weeks.
Milford was on fire against the Sharks while Hunt was off his game, then Hunt was the dominant playmaker in the last match against Melbourne.
The pair are capable of winning games, but they need to hit their straps at the same time more often than is currently happening if Wayne Bennett's side has any chance of making a dent in the finals.
Marshall may not be totally enamoured with Milford but the NRL veteran believes he can make an impact as a mentor to less experienced players at the club.
The ex-Tigers and Dragons star said Hunt has been under enormous scrutiny after signing with St George but bristled at speculation he may become distracted by the deal and not be committed to the Broncos in 2017.
"If you see the little efforts he does that other halves aren't doing, putting his body on the line for the team - that's not a guy who is worrying about what is happening next year," Marshall said.
"From a players' point of view we have faith in Ben that he is with us."