Miller ready for Terenure debut
Published 14/10/1998 | 00:11
ERIC MILLER'S long period of inactivity will end when he makes his debut at No 8 for Terenure College against Dublin University at College Park on Saturday.
Remarkably, the Kitty O'Shea Leinster Championship clash will be Miller's first game of the season.
Hardly ideal, but not something the Lions and Irish forward sees as a major problem.
``Believe it or not, I'm probably in my best shape ever. The one thing I'm missing is match practice,'' Miller insists.
``When my difficulties with Leicester first emerged, it was hoped that things would be sorted out pretty quickly.
The advice from Dean Richards was to sit tight.
``As I was leaving and not training with Leicester, it was decided that I shouldn't disrupt the second team.
``But I've been training hard since June and in the fitness tests at the recent Irish training camp I was shown to be in very good shape.''
Just how good is bound to be of considerable interest to Ulster coach Harry Williams as Miller is scheduled to make his Ulster debut in the final interprovincial outing against Connacht on Friday week. But the international back-row forward was never due to be involved in Ulster's European Cup home clash with Toulouse next Friday because of complications regarding his registration.
His situation with Ulster is that the agreement is just for the Connacht game. Next season, he will be given the choice as to what province he will link up with.
In the meantime, Miller intends making the biggest possible impact at Terenure. While up to eight clubs were interested in him, it came down to a choice between his former team Old Wesley and Terenure.
He met both clubs on Friday before deciding on Terenure because of the fact that they will be playing in Division One of the All-Ireland League this season. Furthermore, he was impressed with the playing strength at Lakelands Park and by their coach Gerry Murphy.
``I already know a good few of the Terenure players and I'm getting to know Gerry Murphy. I see no reason why there should be any problems with me settling in.
``It's brilliant to be back. I'm a different person, much more relaxed. Realistically, I'm taking a step down from English rugby but I believe that under Warren Gatland the structure has become very good in Ireland.
``I'm a better player for my time in England but there's still much to learn. Hopefully, now that everything is cleared up, I can again show what I have to offer.''
Although he would gladly feature elsewhere in the back-row for Ireland, Miller intends sticking to his preferred position of No 8 for Terenure. In order to accommodate him there, Terenure move New Zealander Gavin Hill to No 6 for the meeting with Dublin University.
Besides Miller, another interesting inclusion in the Terenure line-up is the former international scrum-half and skipper Niall Hogan. Hogan will play his second game since moving back from London Irish.
Furthermore, representative wing David Colman has returned to action after a long spell out with injury while Terenure will be able to call on four current Leinster players for their All Ireland League campaign.
Girvan Dempsey, Ciaran Clarke, Derek Hegarty and Pat Holden are all in the Leinster line-up to face Stade Francais in Paris next Saturday.
Add second-row Rory Sheriff and hooker James Blaney and it's easy to understand why Miller is so optimistic that his decision to join Terenure will prove the right one.