Brumbies show support to Rural Fire Service staff amid hectic bushfire crisis

Super Rugby
by Iain Payten

Will Miller counts himself lucky that the Miller family dairy farm near Berry is not under the same awful fire threat as much of the burning eastern seaboard.

But after seeing the Rural Fire Service at work this week, Miller has no doubt those who are battling bushfires around their homes are being backed by an incredible group of people in the RFS.

The flanker was one of a crew of Brumbies who visited the RFS’s Queanbeyan command centre, hoping to show their support for the firefighters and volunteers in their region.

There are large fires burning in the North Black Range in the Tallaganda National Park, near Bombay and Braidwood, and further east there are several fire-fronts on the south coast in the Currowan area.

Further north, Miller says his family and neighbouring community around Berry have been fortunate so far.

"We have been pretty lucky with the fires,” Miller said. 

"It is pretty dry at the moment, there is not a lot of feed around. But as far as fires go, there has been nothing too close to us, which has been very lucky. 

"Hopefully nothing comes through because there are a lot of houses in the bushes now.”

Miller, Joe Powell, Tom Cusack and Harry Lloyd were full of admiration for the staff, and particularly the volunteers, working in the RFS centre at Queanbeyan.

"It’s pretty fully on. They’re non-stop,” Miller said. 

"Probably the drive of the volunteers is the biggest thing that strikes you, they’re doing 12-hour-plus days every day just to try and help out where they can. And they don’t want to leave. They get pushed out sort of thing. 

"They just want to help the community, so it’s amazing to see just how much they care. They’re the people you need to get things done, just the logistics and things, they’re the people in here doing that. They’re incredible really.”

Cusack said the NSW fire scourge was hitting home for a lot of players who were from the bush, and even for those who just know well Braidwood and other under threat areas.

"You have a a lot of country blokes through the squad and a lot of Canberra blokes as well, that know the region very well, it’s hitting close to home heading through Braidwood,” Cusack said.

"That’s the main central point heading down to the south coast, which everyone goes down to over Christmas and New Years. 

"It has been mentioned in our squad and everyone is making an effort to get out in the community and show our support and help towards those that are in need.”

Though he is one of those country boys, Miller is only a relative newcomer to Canberra and its surrounds, having switched from the Waratahs to the Brumbies in the off-season.

Stuck behind Michael Hooper for his preferred no.7, Miller has the chance to take over from David Pocock in Canberra but there is no shortage of back row talent at the Brumbies in 2020.

Will Miller will play at blindside flanker on Saturday afternoon. Photo: Getty ImagesCusack, Pete Samu and Locky McCaffrey are incumbents, and Rob Valentini won his first Wallabies cap in 2019 as well.

“It's really good. I was just saying this morning, it’s probably one of the best things is, and not that anyone has said anything like this, but you could cater it to teams you are playing,” Miller said.

"I guess there are different talents there and different players can bring different things to the team, so there will be lots of combinations they’ll be able to trial and have a look at what works best for the team. That’s always a good thing to have.

"I am loving it. It’s a great group of blokes and a great coaching staff, so I have really enjoyed it so far. A tough couple of weeks to start with, but its been good. It’s what we need I guess to set us up well for the Super Rugby season.

"I have always admired the Brumbies as a team and I’m hoping I can do my bit to help them improve on what they did last year. It’s a young squad and I am looking forward to helping out wherever I can.

"Whether that’s starting as a no.7 or being a replacement or whatever it is, I will just put my hand up and do whatever I can to help out.”