The first alarm went off at about 4am. The ACT Brumbies filed into the darkness ready to step out of their comfort zone while their rivals slept.
The Brumbies' pre-season camp in Berry saw them land at Will Miller's farm. Picture: Instagram

Will Miller’s family dairy farm in Berry was the next checkpoint on the Brumbies’ road to Super Rugby Pacific success.

Long before the sun had risen the Brumbies were milking cows and riding horses, jumping feet first “right into some cow poo” on a pre-season camp more about connections and bonds than cut-outs and big hits.

The Brumbies went straight from Bowral to Berry over the weekend, landing at the site of former teammate Miller’s dairy farm for a new take on the pre-season program.

Miller’s heart lives on this farm. That’s why he retired from rugby in 2020 – even if he did have to take a break from fixing fences and putting out hay to answer an SOS from Brumbies coach Dan McKellar last year.

So it seemed a fitting place for the Brumbies to turn to as they enter a new era of Super Rugby.

A family-run dairy farm seems a world away from the hostile reception the Brumbies will receive in Brisbane, Waikato and Auckland this year, but it may have been the perfect place to ignite their journey.

“It’s a camp all about connection and getting to know each other,” Brumbies and Wallabies scrumhalf Nic White said.

“This morning we woke up and went out to Will Miller’s farm and milked some cows for a couple of hours which was good for a few of the boys who haven’t ventured outside of cities too much in their life, to get along to a farm and see how things end up on their plate.

“It was also awesome to see Willy, and it was about spending time with each other. There were plenty of good laughs, we saw big Al [Alaalatoa] had a ride on a horse, the poor horse, and then the horse had a little bit of a ride on Allan.

Brumbies players were taken out of their comfort zone as they milked cows on a farm. Picture: Brumbies Media
 Brumbies players were taken out of their comfort zone as they milked cows on a farm. Picture: Brumbies Media

“It’s been a great weekend, not so much rugby content but just spending time with each other creating those connections and relationships which is what we Brumbies pride ourselves on. The culture of the club, we’re the family club, and that sort of stuff needs to be nurtured.”

The Brumbies will return to club headquarters this week for an intra-club trial which serves as their final tune-up before a round one clash with the Western Force.

Canberra Stadium will play host to the Brumbies’ first three games of the season following the Force’s move to the east coast, giving McKellar’s squad a golden opportunity to lay the platform for Super Rugby success.

White was among a host of Brumbies players who dashed from Berry to Sydney to film content for Super Rugby broadcasters – but not before they got a lesson from the ex-teammate they’ve known simply as “the milkman”.

“There were a couple of boys that looked pretty comfortable. Tom Hooper looked like he knew his way around, and obviously the Lonergan boys being country boys,” White said.

The Brumbies arrived in Berry for a pre-season camp. Picture: Brumbies Media
 The Brumbies arrived in Berry for a pre-season camp. Picture: Brumbies Media

“I don’t think anyone looked out of their depth, everyone had the right attitude and jumped right into it feet first, right into some cow poo.

“Everyone bought in which was good to see. That’s what it was about, being out of your comfort zone. The Millers were there babying us through it, because really, none of us had any idea what we were doing.

“For us just doing it one day is pretty cruisey. The Millers and all dairy farmers have to get up at sparrow-fart and do that every day. We came bounding in with energy because we’re only doing it once.”

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