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Lam delighted to have Muliaina back in reckoning for Connacht's top-six push

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Mils Muliaina will be vital as they bid for a first ever top-six finish in the Pro12 says coach Pat Lam

Mils Muliaina will be vital as they bid for a first ever top-six finish in the Pro12 says coach Pat Lam

SPORTSFILE

Mils Muliaina will be vital as they bid for a first ever top-six finish in the Pro12 says coach Pat Lam

Connacht coach Pat Lam believes the return of Mils Muliaina will be vital as they bid for a first ever top-six finish in the Pro12.

The 34-year-old full-back, who was capped 100 times for New Zealand, missed the recent Pro12 fixtures against Scarlets, Dragons and Treviso with a hamstring injury.

Muliaina did return to training last week but wasn't included as Connacht hammered Treviso 53-5 at the Sportsground on Sunday.

With just six rounds of Pro12 rugby remaining, Connacht are sixth and still well on course to achieve their goal of qualifying for next season's European Champions Cup.

"He was close last week but to have his experience in what is going to be a tough away game is going to be important. I am looking forward to Mils getting out there and making a difference.

"Leadership is important, the work that is done behind the scenes and off the ball is crucial. It brings a lot of confidence to the other guys and I know he is looking forward to getting out there.

"When you have a young backline, some of the learnings that they have from Mils particularly when he is not playing is great but to have him out there now and be able to make decisions along as you go is great," said Lam.

Fellow full-back Darragh Leader is also set to make his return against Cardiff Blues tomorrow, while No 8 Eoghan Masterson should be fit but prop Nathan White remains unavailable.

Lam is optimistic that a lot of his longer-term injuries will be ready for the next block of fixtures with scrum-half Kieran Marmion, Bundee Aki, Willie Faloon and Eoin McKeon still on the mend.

Elsewhere, World Cup winner BJ Botha says he'd love to stay with Munster as he brings the curtain down on his illustrious career.

The 35-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season but has made it clear he wants to stay on.

The Springbok, a member of the squad which won the 2007 World Cup, is in his fourth year with Munster, having spent three seasons prior to that with Ulster and expects his future to be sorted out in the next few weeks but it is not something which is top of the agenda at the moment.

"That's not my decision really," he said, when asked if he was going to remain. "We still have gone in that direction yet. I think we just want to concentrate on what's on the field at this stage and then we'll see.

"It's still on the back burner at the moment. We've just got to perform on the field at the moment."

Irish Independent