Ali Miller: ‘On the trolley in Vincent’s I didn't think I'd play again’

Ireland winger continues her remarkable recovery as Ireland face Scotland at Scotstoun

Women's Six Nations: Scotland v Ireland

Kick off: 7.35pm, Friday. Venue: Scotstoun. On TV: Live RTÉ 2.

Ali Miller entered the England game, a 51-7 all-ends-up hammering that has to be expected when professionals break bread with amateurs, seeking trouble. It found her within seconds when the latest of far too many wayward passes had the veteran winger stretching into contact.

Never a good idea, but a terrible situation considering the Laois try machine – 19 in 33 Tests – was returning from from horrific leg fractures sustained on the same Donnybrook surface a year previous.

The same Miller who put a cherry on top of the Black Ferns way back in 2014. Seems like a lifetime ago now.

“When I was on the trolley in Vincent’s I definitely didn’t think I’d play again,” she told the media this week. “In those moments the pain is so immense you don’t see how you can get past that. You’re wondering if you’re doing the right thing.

"I've been playing a long time. This is my 10th Six Nations. I was 33 when I did it, I'm 34 now. You're not professional. Maybe there's a different attitude towards you as a woman. If I was a man playing for Ireland, it's a profession. People were like, 'ah, you're done. I saw it, you're absolutely done. You'll never get back to that level.'

“I don’t know if people realise what they’re saying three or four weeks after a serious leg-break. Maybe that spurs you on, and you store it somewhere inside and use it to motivate yourself to get back.”

Three decades

Miller spoke this week about her father, the late great Laois footballer Bobby Miller who played well into his later years. After reaching an All-Ireland minor final in 1967, Miller’s intercounty career spanned three decades.

Some sporting family.

Ali Miller is the story this week. This Ireland side need her as much as they welcome Richmond's Anna Caplice into the backrow, while Leah Lyons shifts to prop to accommodate Emma Hooban at hooker.

Ireland’s campaign will be defined by this result – success or failure – as three wins is the highest level of expectation internally and externally for this team.

“I think we’re pretty much on a level playing field,” said Scotland coach Shane Munro of last year’s victory in Dublin.

If that proves to be the case, Irish women’s rugby is stuck. High stakes.

SCOTLAND: C Rollie (Lille); L Musgrove (Hong Kong), H Smith (Hillhead/Jordanhill), L Thomson (Darlington, captain), A Sergeant (Heriot's); H Nelson (Montpellier), M Grieve (Firwood Waterloo); L Cockburn (Darlington), L Skeldon (Watsonians), M Kennedy (Stirling County), E Wassell (Heriot's), D McCormack (Harlequins), R Malcolm (Loughborough), R McLachlan (Stirling County), S Bonar (Loughborough).

Replacements: J Rettie (Saracens), K Dougan (Gloucester Hartpury), M Forsyth (Stirling County), S Anderson (Hillhead/Jordanhill), N Howat (Edinburgh University), S Law (Edinburgh University), L Martin (Lille), R Lloyd (Loughborough).

IRELAND: L Delany (Firwood Waterloo/IQ Rugby); E Considine (Munster), S Naoupu (Leinster), M Claffey (Leinster), A Miller (Connacht); N Fowley (Connacht), A Hughes (Leinster); L Feely (Connacht), E Hooban (Leinster), L Lyons (Harlequins); A McDermott (Leinster), N Fryday (Connacht); A Caplice (Richmond), C Molloy (Wasps), C Griffin (Munster, capt).

Replacements: D Nic A Bhaird (Munster), L Djougang (Leinster), F Reidy ( Munster), C Boles (Railway Union), C McLaughlin (Ulster), K Dane (Ulster), E Murphy (Leinster), M Williams (Leinster).

Verdict: Ireland win.

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