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1st XV

PLAYER FEATURE: Miller feels at home at Myreside as business end of season comes around 

PLAYER FEATURE: Miller feels at home at Myreside as business end of season comes around 

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Gary Heatly talks to the young South African about his move to Scotland

When James Miller moved from South Africa, where he had grown up, to Scotland back in the summer of 2017, he is the first to admit that the change took him time to get used to.

However, a year and a half later and the 20-year-old is loving life in Edinburgh, has Scotland under-20 caps under his belt and is performing consistently well for Watsonians in the Tennent’s Premiership.

With four regular season league matches to be played, the first XV are just three points off the play-off spots and also have a Scottish Cup quarter-final to look forward to away at Melrose next month.

This Saturday, after a friendly run out away to Heriot’s last weekend, they host Glasgow Hawks at Myreside (3pm) looking for vital points in the play-off race.

And Miller - and his trademark scrumcap – will certainly be doing their best to get the team on the front foot.

“It was important to get a win away at Hawick just before Christmas and we all managed to recharge the batteries over the festive period, so we are raring to go,” Miller said.

“I managed to get back to South Africa, get a bit of sun and see family during the break so that was great, but now our focus is on the Hawks game.

“We have played pretty well at times this season and have come together pretty well as a unit.

[Head coach] Steve Lawrie works us hard, but we all like that because we want to be successful and competing for trophies.

Miller, whose mother is Scottish, was brought up in Johannesburg and moved to Durban and Stellenbosch to further his education and his rugby before the big move to the northern hemisphere in July 2017.

In his first season on these shores, Miller impressed with Watsonians and was a member of the Scottish Rugby Academy.

He also forced his way into the under-20s squad for the World Championships in Georgia in the summer of 2018 where he earned two caps against England and the host nation.

“In my first season it took me a bit of getting used to things and the style of game here, but I learnt quickly and I think I did pretty well,” Miller stated.

“I was really pleased to be called up for the under-20s squad and to play in a tournament like that was the highlight of my career so far.

“It was a great experience, I played a full 80 minutes against England which was awesome and then 40 minutes against Georgia which was a whole different ball game, they were very physical!”

Since last summer Miller has been working full-time for Aegon out at the Gyle, as a platform administrator, and playing for Watsonians.

“Working full-time is certainly different for me, but I have got used to balancing it with my rugby training and I have enjoyed this season.

“In the back-row at the club we have a good mix of different styles of players as well as a blend of youth and experience and it is great for us younger guys to learn from someone like Mike Fedo.

“I think in the back-row we work well as a unit and we try and do our bit for the team both in defence and attack."

Article by: Gary Heatly (GH Media)

Photographs from: Graham Gaw