“It’s good to be back” | Miller
Ally Miller laughs as he hears himself being described one of the squad’s more senior players.
After all, as he approaches his third campaign at Scotstoun, it’s not necessarily a tag that the 27-year-old product of Preston Lodge has ever really considered.
“Let’s go with mature,” the back-rower deadpans, before breaking out into a grin once more.
Two days into his third pre-season with Franco Smith’s men, though, and all memories of summer holidays have been consigned to the rear view mirror for Miller and company.
With gym, conditioning and rugby sessions designed to have the Warriors in peak shape ahead of the opening round of the BKT United Rugby Championship, it’s full steam ahead for the back-rower – and he’s loving every minute.
“It was a long summer, but it was really good to just properly switch off and get a bit of time to yourself,” said Miller.
“I got away to Portugal with my partner for a wee break, and then I’ve been in and around Glasgow really. I’ve been helping Duncan Weir with a kids camp, painting the bathroom in the flat, just keeping busy really!
“Franco and the coaches have given us a lot of trust over the time off, and it’s something that the boys have definitely appreciated and responded to. Everyone’s come in and tested well on their fitness scores and feeling good, because we all feel fresh and ready to go.
“We’ve had our own timescales that we’ve worked on, and now coming back in as one group means that everyone’s fully focused and ready to get down to work.”
With 18 players still to return to Scotstoun – Jamie Dobie and Kyle Rowe have been training alongside the 14 players heading to the Rugby World Cup with Scotland, whilst Sione Vailanu and Lucio Sordoni remain with Tonga and Argentina respectively – it’s a youthful group of Warriors that have kicked off pre-season preparations.
Having been in their shoes in years gone by, Miller is keen to do his bit to help shape the Warriors of the future in any way he can.
“It definitely feels like a great balance, for sure,” said the former Scotland 7s star.
“There’s a lot of experience still here, even without the boys on international duty, and there are a lot of young faces ready to get stuck in. There’s some real talent in that group as you’ve seen with the boys that were away winning gold at the Commonwealth Youth Games, so to be able to blend that youth with the guys that have that experience and integrate them into the squad is really exciting.
“It takes you back to when you were first coming into the pro environment, definitely! I had guys like Roddy Grant, Ross Ford when I was growing up and coming through the ranks along the M8, so I’m keen to do whatever I can to help these boys too.”
As the countdown continues to The Famous Grouse Pre-Season Friendly and the visit of Zebre Parma to Scotstoun on Saturday 30 September, it’s now a case of getting down to the hard graft for Smith’s men.
With the excitement building amongst supporters, it’s a feeling shared by the group assembling at Scotstoun, as the sense of anticipation amongst Warriors new and old continues to heighten.
“It’s just a good feeling around the group, really,” said Miller.
“Everyone’s pretty relaxed and excited to get stuck in. It’s been good to meet and get to know Henco [Venter] since he’s arrived and integrate him and the younger lads into the system, and I’ve played a lot of 7s with Kyle [Rowe], so it actually means that it’s pretty seamless jumping into drills.
“Everyone’s spurring each other on and it’s good to be back.”