James Muir Miller
- 471Wallaby Number
Jim Miller was a rangy and strong, whole-hearted rugby enthusiast. With a proven record of durability and consistent performance, Miller earned a well-deserved recall to the national side after he appeared destined to never play for his country again.
Born in Kiama, Miller was educated at Hawkesbury Agricultural College. Incredibly he played First XV rugby at school in his first year. Miller also featured prominently in field athletics and boxing, at which he won heavyweight titles.
In 1959, aged 20, he was selected for New South Wales Country against the 1959 British Lions where the locals performed with distinction in their three try to four, 14-27 loss. The following year Miller made his debut for New South Wales against Queensland at Newcastle. At that time he was 6ft 1in (1.85m) and 14st 12lb (95kg) but was advised that a bit more size wouldn't hurt. A period of solid weight training added another 6kg to his frame. An outstanding display for New South Wales when they upset New Zealand 12-11 in 1962 earned Miller a Test debut in Brisbane. Australia lost 6-20 and the selectors made four personnel changes, one of which was Miller, for the second Test.
Despite the setback Miller played his way into the final Wallaby trial for the return tour of New Zealand and while Australia chose four locks in the party, Miller was a stunning omission. A strong start to the 1963 season, particularly in the Wallaby trials saw Miller recalled for the one-off Test against England as well as the tour to South Africa. On tour he was in good early form and held his place for the opening international in Pretoria. There was a key moment in the Test where Miller failed to hold onto a pass within a couple of yards of an open line. The final margin was 11 points (3-14) and a converted try, while undoubtedly helpful, would only have narrowed the loss, not changed the outcome. That the Australian selectors made eight changes for the second Test, one of which was again Miller, suggested the missed scoring opportunity was simply one in a litany of Wallaby problems. One major factor was the lineout where Australia was hammered 12-29.
Unfortunately for Miller the writing was on the wall when the Wallabies met Northern Transvaal at Loftus Versfeld. The desperate need to fix the lineout saw John Thornett shifted to tighthead, and both Peter Crittle and Rob Heming brought in as locks. The Wallabies forced an 11-all draw and that result ensured the tight five were retained for the final three Tests.
Miller’s exile from the Wallabies continued for more than three years. Almost as surprising as Miller's omission from the 1962 tour to New Zealand was his return to the fold for the 1966/67 Fifth Wallabies tour to the U.K., Ireland, France and Canada. He was among the hardest-worked players in the early going, made nine appearances before the first international, and there was no pushback when Miller’s name was included in the side to face Wales. What did surprise was his selection in the front row given he had never played a match for New South Wales in that position. Miller returned home well content following a fine tour, one where he was honoured with the captaincy in the uncapped match against British Columbia Universities.
Jim Miller played six Tests for Australia in a six-year international career.
Miller won his first Test cap at lock alongside fellow debutant Paul Perrin in the 1st Test, 6-20 loss to New Zealand in Brisbane.
Miller partnered John Thornett in the second row for the 18-8 victory over England at the Sydney Sports Ground and the 1st Test, 3-14 loss to South Africa at Loftus Versfeld.
With tour captain John Thornett ruled out with impetigo, Miller won a start at prop alongside Peter Johnson and Tony Miller in the 14-11 win against Wales at Cardiff Arms Park. That same front row was selected for the 5-11 loss to Scotland at Murrayfield. Roy Prosser came in for Tony Miller to make his debut in the 23-11 victory over England at Twickenham.