Anthony Robert 'Slaggy' Miller
- 393Wallaby Number
There have been many a hard man play rugby for Australia however few have greater claim to the title of ‘the hardest’ than Tony ‘Slaggy’ Miller. Miller’s international career covered an incredible 16 years. He went on a total of seven overseas tours - but also withdrew from several more due to his business commitments as an electrical contractor - and is one of only three Wallabies prior to 1975 who twice toured to the U.K. (1957/58 and 1966/67). Miller played 105 matches for Australia, 41 of which were Tests, and he twice held the record as our most capped Test player.
Born and bred in Sydney, Miller was schooled in Balgowlah and Mosman before he enrolled at ‘Shore’. While he was only at Shore for three years the school offered Miller his first taste of rugby. Miller went on to play in the lower grades for Manly Surf Club, then St Matthews Church team in his late teens where he was fortunate to come under the coaching influence of Bill Simpson. After playing for the NSW U21s, Miller fronted up for the Manly Club where he made his First grade debut in 1950.
Two years later he was selected to play his first senior representative match, for New South Wales against Queensland, and the following month was named at No.8 for the opening Test against the touring Fijians. 1952 also marked Miller’s first international sojourn, the 10 match tour of New Zealand under John Solomon, where the Wallabies stunned the locals with a 14-9 1st Test victory. The following season Miller toured South Africa where he moved to the middle row and formed a formidable lock pairing with future Test captain Alan Cameron.
On that tour Miller was honoured with the captaincy in the uncapped victory over Border at Queenstown. In 1961, and with 26 Test caps under his belt, Miller completed his positional transition when he graduated to the front row against Fiji. Miller made himself unavailable for the 1962 tour of New Zealand and then waited four long years for his 34th cap, won against the British Lions, and it was his performances in that series which earned him selection for the Fifth Wallabies tour to the U.K. et al. Incredibly, aged 37, Miller played in 21 of the 36 matches despite a poisoned toe and various leg injuries.
Throughout his career Miller played 346 First Grade games for his beloved Manly, coached the club from 1973 to 1976, and then coached the then newly formed Warringah club from 1977 to 1985. Miller will forever be revered for the quality of his play. He was the role model for an aspiring forward. His craggy features, with scar tissue rampant, and a nose bent through his various punches and elbows that came his way, was one of the most recognised faces in Australian rugby. His feats were truly extraordinary. A genuine servant of the game at all levels, the rugby world was shocked when he died suddenly in 1988 aged just 59 years.
Miller won his first Test cap at No.8 alongside Col Windon and Brian Johnson in the 1st Test, 15-9 defeat of Fiji at the S.C.G. He held his place for the 15-17, 2nd Test loss and was then selected for the tour of New Zealand. Miller started in both Tests, the first at lock in combination with Alan Cameron and the second at No.8.
Miller partnered Alan Cameron in the middle row for each of the four internationals on the tour of South Africa.
The Miller / Cameron pairing started both home Tests against Fiji.
Cameron and Miller combined to start all three away Tests on the tour to New Zealand.
Miller started alongside Cameron in the two 0-9 home losses against South Africa.
Miller and Cameron played their final Test together, the 11-25, 1st Test loss to New Zealand at the S.C.G. before the the former captain was forced to withdraw from the 2nd Test in Brisbane due to a knee injury. Neil Latimer, who had never played for a senior representative team - Sydney, Metropolitan or New South Wales - was then selected to make his Test debut in partnership with Miller.
He was selected on the Fourth Wallabies tour and started in four of the five internationals. Miller scored his first Test try in the 3-9 loss to Wales in Cardiff. For the first time in six years, and 19 Tests, Miller’s name was missing from the team sheet for the match against Ireland at Lansdowne Road. On the Canadian leg of the tour Miller captained his country in the uncapped 31-6 win over British Columbia University.
Miller partnered David Emanuel at lock in all three home Tests against the Maori but then declared himself unavailable for the tour to New Zealand due to business commitments.
Miller played his final two internationals at lock in the home Tests against the British Lions.
The Wallabies did not play any Test rugby in 1960.
He moved into the front row and partnered Peter Johnson and Jon White in all three home Tests against Fiji. Miller then toured South Africa but was only capped in the 11-23, 2nd Test loss at Port Elizabeth. In the one-off home loss to France, who were on their way home from New Zealand, Miller played his 31st Test to break the Australian all-time cap record held by Sir Nicholas Shehadie.
Miller started alongside Johnson and White in the two home Test losses to New Zealand but then declared himself unavailable for the return tour to New Zealand due to business commitments.
Following White’s retirement after the 1965 home series against South Africa, Miller returned to combine with Johnson and John Thornett in both home losses to the British Lions.
Miller won selection for the Fifth Wallabies tour and was capped in four of the five Tests. In the 5-11 loss to Scotland at Murrayfield he surpassed John Thornett’s Australian all-time cap record of 36 Tests.
In his final season of international rugby Miller combined with Roy Prosser and Johnson in the 5-11 home loss to Ireland and, at 38 years, 113 days, the 9-29 loss to New Zealand at Athletic Park.