THIS was the time of year when, during his four seasons as a member of the Scotland Sevens squad, Ally Miller would be preparing to head off to glamorous venues such as Las Vegas, Dubai and Singapore. Right now, though, he is preparing for a trip to Llanelli, and Glasgow’s URC match against the Scarlets on Saturday evening.
In terms of the tourist industry, such a switch may well look very much like a move down market. In terms of his own career, however, Miller is convinced that he made the right decision when he swapped sevens for 15s – all the more so since he left Edinburgh last summer to sign for the Warriors.
The 25-year-old back-row forward believes he learned a lot from sevens, and has some fond memories of his time in the abbreviated code, which saw him represent Scotland at the last Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast as well as playing on the World Sevens Series. At the same time, however, he knows he has become a more versatile player since making the switch.
“I kind of transitioned during Covid,” Miller said of his timing of the move from sevens to 15s. “They are two completely different games. I put a real focus during lockdown to build up and come back into the 15s game and then got across to Glasgow.
“I did the sevens for four years and absolutely loved it. I was there for four years and I use that massively as a development experience – in terms of skill it was massive for me. It’s not often you get to play in front of 40,000 in Hong Kong against England on a Friday night. Those are experiences that will stick with me forever.
“I’ve got massive respect for the sevens programme. They had a tough time over lockdown with world travel getting shut down. The program is just picking up again and there are some really exciting players there.”
At 6ft 4in and now weighing some 112 kilos, Miller always had the stature required for his current role with the Warriors. All the same, the move took a bit of getting used to. “It’s about trying to keep as much power and speed as you can,” he explained. “For the back row, with mauls and scrums, you try to put a bit of weight on.
“In sevens it is a lot more high speed and you have to have a lot of repeatable sprints in you, whereas in 15s there is a lot more downtime. When you set up for scrums you can catch your breath a bit more.”
There are indeed those natural pauses for restarts, though it is not always that easy to catch your breath when you are playing the sort of high-tempo game that Glasgow love to implement. Nor do you have much time to relax when you are part of a defence that has applied itself relentlessly and with increasing success in recent months.
Miller believes it is in large part thanks to that defence that the Warriors have won their last five matches in the league – a victorious run that began way back at the start of December. There were a couple of big scores early on in that sequence, but on their last two outings Danny Wilson’s squad have prevailed in far tighter battles. They prevailed 13-11 over Munster a few weeks ago, for example, while in their last outing, at home to Benetton, they won 13-3.
“I think defensively our discipline has been really good over the last couple of weeks, especially the last two really low-scoring games from the opposition here at home,” Miller said when asked the secret behind their good form, which has also seen them beat the Dragons, Connacht and the Ospreys since the last time they lost in the league – a one-point defeat in Treviso. “I think hard work definitely comes into it.
“We’re building up our identity as a defensive system. I think it is everyone coming together to take real pride in what we’ve got at the moment. It’s about carrying that on to the Scarlets game.”