Billy Miller at the NTC Challenge in Newcastle yesterday.
Billy Miller at the NTC Challenge in Newcastle yesterday. Jonathan Carroll, Newcastle Herald

Miller closer to Olympic dream

SUNSHINE Coast product Billy Miller has one foot on the plane to London for the 2012 Olympic Games after being named in the Australian Water Polo Olympic train-on squad yesterday.

The right-hand driver was named in the 20-man preliminary team after being one of the country's most consistent performers over the last three years.

Miller got the nod despite his Queensland team going down 10-8 to NSW in extra time in the final of the NTC Challenge in Newcastle yesterday.

The 23-year-old scored once for Queensland as NSW came from 5-2 down at half-time to take the victory.

Australian Sharks coach John Fox said Miller was well poised to go to his first Olympic Games but needed to maintain his good form.

"He basically broke into the team in 2009 and has been consistent for going on three years and he just needs to maintain that to be part of London," he said.

"He comes from a swimming and surf background, he's a strong player and his ball skills are quite good.

"It's important to have that in water polo and he's able to put them to good use.

"In water polo terms, he's not a large player compared to when you line up against some of the (former) Eastern Bloc countries but he does have that agility."

Miller's next major focus will be the Pan Pacific Championships next month where he is expected to represent Australia.

The squad will be trimmed to 18 following the Pan Pacs in March and a final 13-man team will be named after the World League finals in Kazakhstan in June.

Miller is one of four players vying for the two right-hand driver positions on the Olympic team.

Fox said while all members of the train-on squad had performed well over the last few years, Games selection would rest on form in upcoming international competition.

"The players' performance over the last week (at the NTC Challenge) has given them some recognition," Fox said.

"However, they have to go further against international competition.

"From my perspective international competition has always been the measuring stick to see whether a player can handle the pressure of the Olympics."