At the upcoming AFL U18 Championships, recruiters will be in full swing identifying which draftees would best fit their club. Ben Miller, who hails from Western Australia, is a dynamic key position player who can also ruck.
The Subiaco tall has won the fourth most hit-outs in the WAFL Colts Competition with 123 at an average of 21 per game. Only Swan Districts’ Oskar Matthews (245 at 27 per game), South Fremantle’s Jacob Warne (166 at 17 per game) and East Fremantle’s Jack McGrath (166 at 28 per game) are ahead of him in terms of total hit-outs won.
He is also averaging 13 possessions, five tackles, three marks, and two inside 50s, helping him earn selection in this year’s West Australian U18 team.
“It is a big achievement for me and something I’ve been working towards the last two years. It’s just really an honour to be picked and to hopefully play some good footy for them,” says Miller.
The WA U18s are coached by a host of former footballing champions including Peter Sumich, Glen Jakovich, Ash McGrath, Mark Seaby, and Darren Rumble. According to Miller, it is Seaby who has had the biggest impact on him.
“Probably Mark Seaby because he wasn’t one of the biggest ruckmen going around when he played. Compared to some of the other boys, I’m not the biggest ruckman. He’s taught me how I can use my type of height to advantage and how to turn some of the negative parts of my game into positives,” he says.
What would excite recruiters is that Miller has already played senior football in Kalgoorlie for the Railways Football Club – the club that has produced dual West Coast premiership player Dean Kemp, and Sandover Medallists Jim Gosnell and Steve Marsh.
“Playing seniors and playing in the ruck, it’s helped me with my body-use and the way I can impact the contest. It prepared me for the quickness of the game when I came down to Perth,” he says.
“It’s something I always look back on and how grateful I am for the opportunity that the Railways Football Club gave me and it’s helped me come to where I am today.”
He also credits his older brother Jacob, for helping him understand what was required to make the State U18s.
“He [Jacob] gave me a good heads-up on what it’s like, what is expected of you to make the squad and how hard you need to push yourself. There’s no easy option out, when you show up you’ve got to want to be there. Put your best foot forward and just show them the talent that you have,” Miller says.
In 2017 Miller has produced a host of outstanding performances, including dominant outings against West Perth in round 3 (11 possessions, 29 hit-outs, two tackles, two inside 50s and a goal), and Claremont in round 6 (17 possessions, 17 hit-outs, four marks, three inside 50s, two tackles and two goals).
But it was his performance against Perth in round 2 where he really elevated himself. He accumulated 16 possessions, won 30 hit-outs, took four marks, laid four tackles, recorded two inside 50s and kicked a goal in a best afield display.
“Probably that game [in terms of his best] because it was competitive and I found the ball. It wasn’t an easy game, but it was a game where I could work on a few techniques to help better myself as a player and just get on top of my opponent in the ruck,” he says.
What makes Miller even more impressive is that he is still doing year 12 at John Paul College in Kalgoorlie.
“Balancing study is not too bad, I get work in advance from the teachers so I don’t fall too far behind. I miss a few school days due to travelling and coming down to Perth, but it’s all made up for when I go back,” he says.
His balance of school and football, especially with the travel he has to do, highlights just how determined he is to succeed.