Ben Miller celebrates a goal during Richmond's clash against Hawthorn in round 19, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

AFTER playing 25 games over seven years, the door may now be open for Ben Miller to firmly and finally establish himself in Richmond's best side, following Josh Gibcus' ACL rupture. 

Miller, 24, was selected with pick No.63 in the 2017 AFL Draft, a mixed draft haul that landed Richmond Noah Balta, Jack Higgins (St Kilda), Callum Coleman-Jones (North Melbourne) and Pat Naish (delisted, via West Coast).

Liam Baker also joined the club via the Rookie Draft at the same time.

While Baker and Balta have cemented themselves as fan favourites and among the first picked every week, Miller has spent the vast majority of his seven-year career in the VFL.

He made his debut in the final round of 2021, adding 24 games over the next two years.

Miller has been called upon in every conceivable situation – cover for ruck Toby Nankervis, filling in for Tom Lynch in attack, and slotting into the backline when Dylan Grimes or Balta have been unavailable, but would end up back in the twos when the more senior player returned.

Max Gawn contests the ruck with Ben Miller during Melbourne's win over Richmond in round 20, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

The automatic assumption is that coach Adem Yze will immediately return Balta to the backline, but in the absence of cloning technology, the Tigers arguably have a greater need to keep him in attack, with other forward options being dropped duo Jacob Koschitzke and Samson Ryan.

"[Balta has] produced two really strong games, and for him, it's around consistency – he's got a goal around being really consistent. I'm really buoyed about what he's doing as a ruck and a power forward, so if we have to cover the other end, I'll be leaning towards bringing in another key defender, and not throwing him back just yet," Yze said.

"Just based on the fact we've only seen [Balta and Lynch play together] once, and in the first half it looked really potent. 

"I think Ben Rutten (backline coach) might want him down back to cover for 'Youngy' (Tylar Young) or for 'Gibbo', but I'm really enjoying what I'm seeing from Noah and 'Lynchy'. It's only been a small sample size, but I hope we can keep going with it."


Tylar Young will miss at least this week's match against Port Adelaide due to concussion, meaning the Tigers will need to bring in another defender alongside Miller.

While there's no real other key defensive option, Koschitzke has spent some time in the backline during his time at Hawthorn.

Mid-sized defensive options include Tom Brown and James Trezise, with Nathan Broad and Nick Vlastuin capable of switching to a lockdown role, allowing one of the younger pair to provide rebound.