Coffs boy Miller eyes win over old Sharks teammates
Nicho Hynes is hoping history repeats for Cronulla in Coffs Harbour but home-town hero Locky Miller has other ideas when he laces up for Newcastle against his old club for the first time.
While Miller was born and bred in the mid-north-coast city, the Sharks have made Coffs Harbour their own second home, pumping Gold Coast there 38-10 in 2021 before Hynes was man of the match in a season-turning 18-10 victory over the Titans last year.
Last year's success broke a frustrating win-loss-win-loss sequence and preceded a run of 10 wins from 11 games that earned the Sharks second spot on the table entering the finals.
Hynes believes it's no coincidence being on the road and in camp together for a week ahead of Saturday's clash galvanises the Sharks.
"The tighter group we have, the better," he told AAP on Friday.
"And the more connected we can be and get to know each other, then you want to go out on the field and play with each other.
"So we're treating it as a home game up here because it is a home game and we want to win every home game we have so we want to treat tomorrow like we're at Shark Park.
"So hopefully we can replicate that this year."
But while he still holds a soft spot for Cronulla, that's not what Miller is hoping for after defecting to the Knights and proving a revelation in 2023 as he ranks second in the NRL for tackle breaks behind Dylan Edwards and sixth for kick-return metres.
Used as a utility at the Sharks, he couldn't crack a permanent first-grade spot under coach Craig Fitzgibbon, who made the tough call to send Miller back from Coffs Harbour last year to play NSW Cup for feeder club Newtown.
"I didn't make the cut in the end so I'm very excited that I know I'll be playing in that fullback position, which I enjoy," Miller said.
"He (Fitzgibbon) was very good about it, but obviously I just wasn't in the best 17 last year, which I understood at the time. But this time I'm in the best 17 for the other team."
Miller remains forever indebted to Fitzgibbon giving him a chance in the NRL last season when the one-time Australian Olympic sevens rugby star was all set to join Matt Giteau and Ashley-Cooper at the LA Giltinis.
"I was pretty much on the way to LA when 'Fitzy' gave me a call," Miller said.
"He was the person who gave me a lifeline in the NRL, I am so very grateful.
"It's pretty funny how everything works out, but I honestly have no hard feelings towards the Sharks.
"I have nothing but love and respect for them, so it will be a very good game, a very interesting game, and I'm really excited just to see everyone again."