Super League 2021: Wakefield Trinity's Jacob Miller building on and off field
Wakefield captain Miller reveals all on doing a carpentry apprenticeship in lockdown, having a new half-back partner in Mason Lino and his hopes for the new Super League season
By Marc Bazeley
Last Updated: 25/03/21 12:30pm
When the UK went into lockdown last year and Super League suspended the season for four months, Jacob Miller found plenty to keep himself occupied.
Along with keeping himself in shape for when the competition resumed, the Wakefield Trinity half-back had to cope with the demands of home-schooling his children and educating himself.
That is because last April, Miller began a carpentry apprenticeship and the 28-year-old has been trying to get as far ahead as possible with that before Super League kicks off in 2021.
"I'm a full-time Year 2 maths teacher now," Miller joked, looking back on the last year. "But I've started a carpentry apprenticeship back in April last year and I've just been trying to chip away at that when I get a chance.
"I'm just trying to chip away at it, so I've got something there when I finish playing.
"We're looking forward to a game. It's been a long pre-season and I think everybody is ready for some rugby now."
The Australian is set to have a new partner alongside him in the halves when Trinity get their campaign underway against Leeds Rhinos on Saturday afternoon in the form of Samoa international Mason Lino.
It's been a long pre-season and I think everybody is ready for some rugby now.
The 27-year-old has joined from NRL side Newcastle Knights on a three-year contract and was Chris Chester's first recruit of the off-season, with the Wakefield head coach keen to bring in another half to take some of the pressure off Miller.
Former Super League players Clint Newton and Blake Green were among those Down Under to give Chester glowing references about Lino and he has already made an impression on the squad ahead of his expected debut.
"He's brought a real professionalism to the outfit and he's a smart footballer as well with some smart ideas about how the game should be played," Chester said.
"I think that'll take a lot of pressure off Milky this year. At times, we went into games with only one recognised half-back and we were having to play guys like Max Jowitt and Ryan Hampshire out of position there.
"We had to throw young Connor Bailey in at certain times last season, so just having an established half-back in the team to get us around the pitch I think will certainly make Milky's job a lot easier in the fact he can just play his own game and he's got a calming influence inside him in Mase."
Miller, who got his first opportunity to play alongside Lino in the 30-10 victory over Dewsbury Rams in a recent pre-season game, believes the new signing will allow him more freedom to play his own game too.
"It's been really good," Miller said. "It has given me the chance to free up a bit.
"In the last few seasons, I've had to kind of take on that role of organising a lot of things that probably didn't suit my game to a tee.
He's brought a real professionalism to the outfit and he's a smart footballer as well with some smart ideas about how the game should be played.
Chris Chester on Mason Lino
"Hopefully you'll see me run the ball a little bit more, and not organising and worrying about things around me. Hopefully I can take a bit of a load off and worry about my own game."
Wakefield ended the 2020 season in 10th place after a year which saw the squad disrupted by injury and a string of positive Covid-19 tests.
But Trinity enter the new Super League season with renewed optimism they can avoid being dragged into a relegation battle this year and captain Miller, now entering his seventh season at the club, is buoyant about their prospects.
"Hopefully we can produce some more consistent performances from last year and even the years before," Miller said. "The difference between our best and worst was too far in between.
"Our training has been a lot more consistent and hopefully that shows on the pitch this year. Hopefully you won't see that dip between our best and our worst."