Paul Miller’s still got it, that was one thing abundantly clear to the whopping crowed on hand for the Classic Wallabies’ clash with the Central West Barbarians at Endeavour Oval on Saturday.
Producing a masterclass in the centres for the Blue Bulls legends, Miller proved he’s not lost much, if any, of the ability that took him to the heights of Central West and indeed NSW Country Rugby Union during his long, glittering career as a Bathurst Bulldog.
The former Bulldogs enforcer seemingly made breaks for fun against a Classic Wallabies side boasting almost 400 Test caps combined, directly setting up two of his side’s three tries as well.
Making that all the more impressive is the fact he’d flown from Brisbane to play – Miller’s based even further north than that now, at Yeppoon – and had no idea what to expect from the clash.
“I think I did pretty well in three-minute spurts. There were some things I did really well, but I wasn’t fit enough to do enough of it,” Miller said after his side’s 44-21 defeat to the Australian side.
“I thought it might be like a Golden Oldies game but as I arrived I realised it was a bit more serious. It was good, I didn’t really know who was playing (for the Classic Wallabies) until [Friday].”
Miller was one of countless Central West, and Cockatoos, legends that turned out in the exhibition clash, which provided a reunion of sorts for several generations of Blue Bulls.
“It was great to catch up with a lot of blokes who I played with and against for so long,” Miller said.
“To be able to come back and catch up with them and play against some really good footballers was great, and it was played in really good spirits as well.
“I’d heard the idea had been floated at the awards night earlier in the year. I don’t live around here anymore, so it just timed really well that ... I could get back.
“The guys who played in the Central West team are a talented bunch of footballers. We’ve seen some people play at our standard and go on and play Super Rugby. [The Classic Wallabies] are all very talented but we knew we could at least match with them for bits and pieces.”
Saturday’s clash also provided a homecoming for another of the Central West Barbarians’ guns in Mark Daley, who led Orange Emus around the paddock and won a number of premierships in the bottle green.
“I haven’t been back here for a while, it was good to come back (and see) a lot of good friends. (There) was a lot of heckling from the sidelines as well. It was a really good experience,” Daley said.
“I haven’t played for a long time. I did a little bit of coaching when I moved up to Tamworth but I haven’t had anything to do with football for a long time. That’s about the first time I’ve touched a football in about four years.
“I could have been a bit fitter but it was alright. I think [the Classic Wallabies] sort of did what they had to do and weren’t too harsh on us.”
As he continued Daley, who also won a title with Dubbo Kangaroos, lauded the concept and the fact it will support Central West’s tour of New Zealand next year.
“I think for me the jumper means a lot and obviously to some of those guys who were involved when I was playing, it means a lot,” he said.
“I think too for those guys to go to New Zealand next year, the cause is fantastic. I think bush footy, whether it’s league or union, is struggling a little bit at the moment, so anything to get people to play footy and see their heroes, I think it’s a good idea.”
DO YOU WANT MORE ORANGE SPORT?
- Receive our free newsletters delivered to your inbox, as well as breaking news alerts. Sign up below …