With the impending court case of Robert Lui, and quite a possibly a years suspension as a result, a bright young star has emerged as a real chance to partner Benji Marshall in the halves for the 2011 season at the Wests Tigers.
Jacob Miller, who is an 18-year-old boom player from Ocean Shores on the NSW North Coast, has impressed the Wests Tigers coaching staff, as he aims to beat out both Robert Lui and Tim Moltzen for first crack at the number 7 jersey.
Peter Gentle, who is the Tigers current assistant coach was Miller’s coach in the NSW U18’s side and he was very please with what he saw of the young player.
“Jacob virtually won us the game. He handled the ball more than anyone, he kicked five goals from five attempts and set up a couple of tries,” Gentle recalled.
“I was very impressed with his leadership qualities in camp in the week leading up to the game and that’s why I gave him the captaincy.
“He was a natural leader at that level. He understood the game plan. When you talk football to some players, you need to draw it or show them. He sees it in his mind.
“Jacob has two years in the 20s ahead of him but if he knuckles down, I feel he has a big future here.
“He is a confident kid and you need to be if you are going to be a decent half-back. You need to be confident in your own ability.”
The decision to move to the Tigers for Miller was easier than many people would have thought.
With the Roosters halves, Todd Carney and Mitchell Pearce excelling, Miller saw a better opportunity at the Tigers and he also couldn’t passÂ up the opportunity to play again under Gentle.
Perhaps the biggest reason behind Miller’s move to the Tigers however was the chance to play alongside one of the games best halves in Benji Marshall, who is known for his razzle-dazzle football, as well as his trademark sidestep.
“I wasn’t planning on leaving the Roosters,” Miller confessed. “I enjoyed playing under ‘Gents’ (Peter Gentle) for NSW and his coaching style really suited me.
“I am more of a half-back than a five-eighth. Playing half gives me a bit more of a pull over the six but that will change if I play next to Benji.
“Everyone at Wests Tigers have made me feel very welcomed. The first few weeks here have been really good and I have taken it upon myself to not just sit back at training but get stuck in. “I really want to be a part of this NRL squad. I can’t wait to start playing.”
The Wests Tigers were delighted to have secured the services of Miller, after spotting his talents when he scored five tries and kicked six goals for Newtown in a SG Ball semi-final against Balmain at CUA Stadium in 2009.
“There is an opportunity here for him. He has two years in the 20s and his opportunity might not come for another 12 months but when it does, he needs to be ready,” Gentle said.
“With the half-back options we have here, I’d say he would start the season off in the 20s but it is not where you start the season, it is where you finish it. He could be an 18-year-old playing first grade.
“Jacob’s style of football suits the way Wests Tigers play. He sees that. One reason or another, the Roosters were not keen to keep him beyond next season. They have got Todd Carney, Mitchell Pearce, Braith Anasta and some good players in the NSW Cup that were ahead of him, so in the pecking order over there, he was down the list.
“He saw more of a chance here and knowing the way Tim gives young blokes an opportunity, he decided to join us.
“I have a high opinion of him but he can’t come here and just expect to get the first grade job. He has Tim Moltzen, Rob Lui and a few decent half-backs ahead of him, so it is a good challenge for him.”