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Fit-again Miller is delighted to have proved her doubters wrong

 

Back again: Ali Miller has returned from serious injury
Back again: Ali Miller has returned from serious injury

By Cian Tracey

Rugby doesn't owe anything to Ali Miller and she most certainly does not owe anything to rugby, having played a major role in helping Ireland make their mark on the world stage.

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There was the unforgettable Grand Slam in 2013 in which Miller starred. A year later she scored a try as an Ireland senior team beat New Zealand for the first time, and then in 2015 she started every game of Ireland's successful Six Nations and also chipped in with four tries, including a hat-trick against Scotland.

So when the Portlaoise native's worst fears were confirmed after she went down clutching her ankle in the early stages of last year's game against Italy, no one could have blamed her if she sailed off into the sunset.

But that innate drive inside her told her that leaving the pitch on a stretcher in total agony was no way to bring the curtain down.

"I definitely didn't think I'd play again," said Miller ahead of the Scotland tie. "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."

Miller agonised over her future and was not helped by those who doubted she would play again.

"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."

IRELAND LADIES (v Scotland): L Delany; E Considine, S Naoupu, M Claffey, A Miller; N Fowley, A Hughes, L Feely, E Hooban, L Lyons; A McDermott, N Fryday; A Caplice, C Molloy, C Griffin (capt). Reps: D Nic A Bhaird, J Djougang, F Reidy, C Boles, C McLaughlin, K Dane, E Murphy, M Williams.

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