World Cup winning All Black seals move to Connacht
Published 05/05/2014 | 10:54
Connacht have announced the signing of World Cup winner Mils Muliaina on a one-year contract to become the first ever All Black to play with the Irish province.
Samoan-born Muliaina, who is currently in his second stint with the Waikato based Chiefs, will link up with Pat Lam whom he played under at Auckland from 2004 -2005 and with the Asia Pacific Barbarians in 2012.
The New Zealand fullback became the second All Black (after Richie McCaw) to reach 100 caps when he ran out against Argentina in the quarter final of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, eight years after his 2003 test debut against England. Muliaina was forced off at half time with a fractured shoulder that led to his retirement from international rugby but he did go on to claim his gold medal after the All Blacks won the trophy, beating France 8 - 7 in the final.
“I don't think I need to point out how huge it is to have Mils Muliaina as our first All Black coming to represent Connacht, Lam enthused.
“At the age of 33, he still has that hunger to play competitive rugby and before his surgery last month, he showed his quality and ability to keep playing at the top level in Super Rugby. It's exciting to announce that we'll have him on our team next season.”
The 33-year-old has been signed as a player-mentor where his invaluable experience will assist in the development of the young Irish talent at the club.
“This is an exciting time for me, making the move to Connacht Rugby. I've obviously had a good chat with some of the boys at the club - Nathan (White) and Clarkey - and they've told me a good bit about the place,” Muliaina said from New Zealand.
“I have a good understanding about my role and what is expected of me at Connacht. I've heard a lot about the talented young backs at the club - guys like Robbie Henshaw - and I'm keen to help anywhere I can, both on and off the field.”
“My experiences of playing in Ireland have been memorable and the one thing that stands out to me is the people.
“They are passionate people who really love their rugby. I've been to Dublin and Limerick with the All Blacks and from what I hear about Galway, it's one of the best cities in Ireland. I can't wait to get over there.”
Having played six games for the defending Super XV champions this year, the veteran back has opted to undergo surgery on a niggling elbow injury and is in line to return to match fitness prior to his arrival in Galway at the end of the current Super XV season.