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Making big noise in quiet manner

London Scottish were underdogs when they travelled to tackle Greene King IPA Championship.

Lee Millar has represented Scotland at club international level this year
Lee Millar has represented Scotland at club international level this year

Leaders London Welsh on Saturday. Yet after one of the most committed and unstinting efforts it would be possible to imagine, the visitors not only emerged with a precious and thoroughly deserved 13-5 triumph but demonstrated how they are unearthing potential future Scotland stars.

Take Lee Millar. A former stalwart of Gala, there was ample evidence that the 22-year-old is developing into one of his country's outstanding backs. Indeed, such are his talents that George Graham, his former coach at Netherdale, said: "How the hell has Lee slipped through the net of Scottish rugby? He is better than what is there just now."

But befitting a character who prefers to do his talking on the pitch, the Elgin-born player concentrates on the importance of his club's success over their fellow Exiles. "It was a measure of the standards we have set ourselves that we were disappointed with conceding a last-minute try,," said Millar, who seems to have ice in his veins during these coruscating encounters. "If they had won, they could have moved eight points clear of us at the top of the table but we have gone into second place and we are only four behind them so there is everything to play for when we go into 2014."

Millar has no illusions about the scale of the task still facing his charges. On New Year's Day, they journey to Bedford for what promises to be another tumultuous tussle and there is scant margin for error in the English second tier, considering the incentives on offer for those who progress to the highest echelon.

None the less, the playmaker has negotiated the path from amateur protege in the Borders to full-time professional in London with real dexterity while maintaining his passion for the sport and belief in trusting his instincts. He knows as well as anybody that he needs to be performing in the Premiership to press home his international ambitions, but, once again, he is refreshingly honest in assessing his short and long-term goals and spelling out what moving to London Scottish has brought to his game.

"When you are training on a full-time basis, you can afford to work so much harder on every aspect and that applies to things off the pitch, as well as on it," said Millar, who is spending Christmas in the north of Scotland before returning south on Thursday. "That was one of the good things about Saturday's win. We had to dig deep, and trust everybody, but we did so.

"There is a growing belief in the squad that we can achieve our aim. We realise it will not be easy. There are a lot of quality sides in this league and we have already seen plenty of shocks and surprises and I am pretty sure there will be more to come. But when you go up against a team such as London Welsh, and stop them from scoring a point for nearly the whole 80 minutes, it does give you a bit of confidence."

Millar has time on his side and his aspirations are plain. "Of course I want to represent my country," he said. But equally, he appreciates that he has to push himself into the spotlight. "And to do that we have to be in the Premiership."

One suspects both Millar and London Scottish are the real deal in that regard.

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