Miller rises to challenge to provide Radford welcome poser

Hull's Jacob Miller, right, celebrates his try with Chris Tuson. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)
Hull's Jacob Miller, right, celebrates his try with Chris Tuson. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)
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The old adage is a half-back is only as good as the pack he plays behind.

Granted, that can be true but it helps, also, if the half-back can actually play a bit as well.

Hull FC’s forwards were, undoubtedly, immense in Thursday’s televised game with Huddersfield Giants, props Garreth Carvell and Mickey Paea rightly earning plaudits in an emphatic 30-6 win over last season’s League Leaders.

Scrum-half Jacob Miller was the first to pay reverence to the industry and sheer power of the Airlie Birds’ pack . “Unreal. If they keep going forward like that there’s not much more you can ask for,” he said, though it would be remiss to overlook his own contribution.

The Australian – a mid-season signing from Wests Tigers last year – had encountered a difficult start to the campaign, being overlooked for the opening six games.

It is unusual for such a high-profile, if admittedly still young, overseas capture to be sidelined in such a manner but Lee Radford has proved in his first season in charge at KC Stadium that reputations, salaries or egos mean nothing to him.

However, an injury to Hull veteran Richard Horne opened up the door for Miller’s return, after three successive games, he is clearly taking his chance.

With some astute kicking, accurate distribution and a general dash about his play, not to mention a second try in three matches, the 21-year-old looked increasingly assured.

“It was obviously tough,” he said, on that experience of being dropped.

“You never want to miss playing footy but I guess it can only make you that bit hungrier. Hopefully, it’s done that.

“I’m really enjoying playing again, just trying to do the little things right and, hopefully, keeping learning and improving.

“Beating a top side like Huddersfield does give you confidence.

“We know we’ve got the game-plan and structures there, we just need to bring that energy the we did on Thursday week in, week out.”

It will be interesting to see if Miller retains his place for next Thursday’s game, the Easter derby at arch-rivals Hull KR.

Horne, 31, could be fit again for that intense fixture and he is seen as first-choice half-back.

But Miller and Jordan Rankin, the 22-year-old NRL recruit in his first season at KC Stadium, have fared well together in the last two games and Radford may decide to let the partnership blossom.

The housemates were Australia Schoolboys colleagues five years ago and Miller added: “It’s good. It was always going to take a bit of time as we’d not played together for a while.

“But Horney’s also played some good footy and whichever way Radders goes will be the best for the team.

“It’s good there is competition and I guess it can work in your favour; you don’t want to put in a bad performance and you keep working hard, doing all the little things during training, as with such depth in the squad you know if you do have a bad performance then your position is at risk.

“The derby’s always a tough game. I managed to play in one last year and we know how big a match that is. Fingers crossed Rads picks me for this one.”

With home games against London Broncos and Wakefield Trinity following their trip to Craven Park, Hull recognise there is a real opportunity to build.

They have four wins from eight Super League games and they have quickly got the disappointment of an agonising Challenge Cup exit out of their system.

They lost 37-36 in extra-time to Catalan Dragons at the KC, Miller’s missed drop goal attempt one of the few negatives he has suffered since returning.

“We spoke all week about how upset we were about missing that game,” he said.

“We really wanted to respond against Huddersfield. And we did just that.”