Stewart Mills never imagined himself ever being “a country boy” but now that he is out west the former NRL flyer wants to make a real impact.
Mills’ move to the Nyngan Tigers is the biggest of the Group 11 off-season, with the former Cronulla Sharks winger taking over as captain-coach from Byron Warren.
Mills has been at Nyngan for a month already and said after spending time in the NSW Cup and the Illawarra competition since leaving the NRL, it was just what he needed.
“I needed a change of scenery and I wanted to test myself in a captain-coach role. I’ve never really done anything like that,” he said.
I needed a change of scenery and I wanted to test myself in a captain-coach role.
“I’m really enjoying my time here. I’ve been working a lot and the boys have made it really good. I’ve been relaxed and its made it easy for me.”
The focus for Mills, who scored six tries in 16 matches with Cronulla, will be on defence this season.
Nyngan has been among Group 11’s best in recent seasons but has failed to make a grand final and the goal for 2017 is to be able to make that next step.
And Mills, who has played for NSW Country while playing in the Illawarra with the Helensburgh Tigers, says a defence-based system will help his side achieve that.
“That’s the biggest thing,” he said.
“I looked at some highlights and there was a lot of tries scored.
“If we base it all on defence our attack will work off the back of that.”
The Tigers’ mentor added he was uncertain where he would slot into the side this season, with the Nyngan side being forced to re-jig its line-up.
Leading hooker Reece Goldsmith has departed, as has fellow Western Rams player Brad Pickering, but Mills still likes what he sees in the squad and said half Jacob Neill remains the “go-to man”.
Mills played in the centres when he represented NSW Country but stated he was “really unsure” as to where he would play with the Tigers in 2017.
“We’re just trying to get everyone together at the moment before we decide anything and I’ll slot in somewhere,” he said.
“Even if its off the bench early on just to see what we’ve got.”
Wherever he plays, it will be in an environment he never imagined himself playing.
“To tell you the truth, no,” he laughed when asked if he ever imagined playing out west. “I didn’t think I’d ever be a country boy.”
The former Sydneysider may well be joined by a couple more players at Nyngan yet.
Mills stated there was a young player and a prop expected to arrive from Brisbane, and said the side’s new look, combined with Tigers’ well-known passion, can help the club push towards a premiership.
“I think if we work on those little things and do them right then we can go a long way,” he said.