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Player of the week: Jonte Miller

Pioneer captain Jonte Miller wears his heart on his sleeve on the field, and off it. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

Leading by example and wearing his heart on his sleeve – that’s the way Jonte Miller likes to do things on and off the field. JOHN LAZO-RON spoke to the Pioneer captain and No 8 about life in rugby and outside.

Making a profession in rugby had always been Jonte Miller’s goal in life.

The Masterton born and bred apprentice scaffolder moved to Hawke’s Bay at 15 to pursue rugby through Napier Boys’ High School, renowned for being an All Blacks breeding ground.

In his two years at the school, he didn’t make the cut for the first XV, so he returned to Wairarapa to do a pre-apprenticeship builder’s course.

Miller, 25, said he never lost sight of rugby. He rejoined his grassroots Masterton club Pioneer, where he played in the third team with his dad.

The next two years, he played for the first team before moving to Wellington, where he got a taste of the capital’s premier competition [Jubilee Cup] playing for Poneke’s premier side.

While there, he made the Wellington Maori side, his most significant achievement in rugby as yet.

At that time, he had a baby daughter, but two new baby girls followed shortly after, which made Miller move back to take care of his young family.

He played for Greytown for a season before transferring to Pioneer, where he now is in his second season as captain – a role he said wasn’t easy at first.

They went winless in that season, and the highs and lows “with losing every game was difficult. But it taught me a lot too”.

He used the experience to grow his leadership skills for the side.

“That season really helped me step up as a player.

“I consider myself a good player, but it’s more than that. It’s about discipline, making sure my boys focus on the job and are not telling the ref how to do his.”

Miller said he’s carried on that same attitude with his young family, who he said was his life.

It pushed him to find permanent work as a scaffolder to give daughters Te Atarangi [four], August [two], and Ace [nine months] a promising future.

“Doing this apprenticeship is about providing a good future for my babies and getting us into our own home one day.”

Miller loves his role with Fall Protects Scaffolding and is thankful to boss Joe Isaac for the opportunity.

“It’s great here,” he said. “I’m learning so much here, and I’m well looked after too.

“But doing this is about my girls – they are my motivators.”

Now, Miller is eyeing a spot in the Wairarapa-Bush Heartland side.

“That’ll be a bonus, but winning the Tui Cup with Pioneer would be mean.”

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