Ben Miller in action for the New Zealand Hawks against China last week. Photo by juntanlaycosports.com
From the Hawthorn Hawks to the New Zealand Hawks - Mosgiel's
Ben Miller (21) loves being a Hawk.
He has just returned home after representing the Kiwi
Australian rules side at the International Cup across the
The Hawks finished third in the 18-team competition set up by
the AFL in 2002 to grow the sport.
After thumping Sweden, China and the USA in their first three
matches, New Zealand lost to Papa New Guinea 75-28 in their
However, a thrilling 44-43 win against South Africa in the
playoff for third and fourth netted New Zealand a bronze
Miller, who plays centre-halfback, played the entire match
despite suffering a suspected broken collarbone in the second
''We were ranked [third] before the tournament.
"It would have been good to make the final but to go out with
a win was good,'' he said.
New Zealand won the competition, which is played every three
years, in 2005.
Miller had a strong campaign and was one of three Kiwis named
in the tournament team.
Skills he learned on a two-year scholarship with the AFL's
Hawthorn Hawks helped.
After playing in a successful national age-group side which
won the Oceania Australian football tournament in 2011, he
was offered a scholarship by the Hawks in 2012 to learn the
ins and outs of the game.
Miller has travelled to Melbourne three times a season for
the past two years.
''I had a great time when I was with them. Training with the
actual Hawks team was a great experience and something I
really enjoyed ...
''I was involved in Hawthorn's full programme, from weights
right through to on-field trainings and team meetings with
Miller plays rugby for Taieri and was a member of the Eels
premier squad which won the Dunedin premier league this year.
He also played for Taieri in the colts grade and received an
award for ''best back''.
Miller also represented the Otago sevens team this year and
hopes to do so next season.
As for what sport he enjoys most: ''The skills I've picked up
from [Australian rules] like ball handling have benefited my
"I would have to say rugby would still be my favourite sport
... but I also enjoy playing [Australian rules] a lot.''
Miller plans to continue representing the New Zealand Hawks
and seeing ''where that gets me''.
- Robert van Royen