ORANGE City’s chances of ending their 18-year first grade premiership drought have been dealt a vital blow with last season’s Central West Rugby Union Player of the Year Wayne Miller deciding not to play in 2011.
The diminutive flanker said looking after his young family was the reason for his decision.
“It wasn’t a tough decision in the end. Family comes first,” Miller said.
The birth of his second child, getting married and becoming a devoted Christian put life into perspective for the 28-year-old.
“I’ve got the family and more responsibility that comes with it,” said Miller, who was also the Illawarra Player of the Year in 2009.
“I love my footy and I love my family ... you choose family over footy.”
Miller was at the centre of Lions’ remarkable climb from eighth position in 2009 to third in 2010.
Dubbed the ‘Wayne Train’, the cult figure led from the front as Steve Hamson’s men went within five minutes of booking a grand final berth.
In his first year in Lions’ colours, he took out the club’s best and fairest award and also the most-represented player prize after his debut for the Central West Blue Bulls in early 2009.
Orange City captain Nathan Short said losing Miller was huge.
“It’s a massive loss,” Short said.
“But we’ve got a lot of back-rowers in the club, five or six blokes that can do the job.”
Players such as Keith Andrews, Josh Maley and even Yeoval recruit Dan Johnson could fill the hole left by Miller, Short said.
Asked how City will fare in 2011, Miller was unsure.
“I don’t know how they will go this year. I haven’t spoken to most of the boys,” he said.
Orange City take on the Boars in Parkes on April 2 in the first round of the Blowes Menswear Cup competition.