RaboDirect PRO12: Connacht sign New Zealand great Mils Muliaina
Connacht have pulled off a major coup with the signing of New Zealand star Mils Muliaina on a one-year contract.
Last Updated: 05/05/14 2:19pm
Muliaina, only the second New Zealander to earn 100 international caps, will become the first All Black to play for the province. He will link up again with Connacht coach Pat Lam, with whom he played for Auckland in 2004-5.
The full-back or wing- currently on the books of Waikato Chiefs after two years in Japan - will play and act as a mentor for some of the club's emerging young players.
Lam told the club's website: "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.
"The second-ever All Black and the first-ever back to reach 100 Test matches is some achievement but what's incredible about Mils is the passion and professionalism he brings whenever he plays and I know he will bring that in the Connacht jersey.
"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.
"One of our main priorities as we began recruitment for next season was to bring in a quality, experienced back to help nurture and mentor our young Irish-qualified backs on and off the field. With the Rugby World Cup only a year away we also wanted someone who could help prepare and guide Connacht's current international Robbie Henshaw.
"Mils' playing experience and knowledge as a full-back, centre and wing who has played in three Rugby World Cups including winning one, will be massive for Robbie and all our backs.
"I've known Mils for some time now and as well as the wealth of knowledge and experience he will bring to the team, he is first and foremost a great team man and a leader who will contribute enormously to our Connacht culture and help move us closer to our vision."
Muliaina added: "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.
"But I've learnt a lot about what to expect from my discussions with Pat (Lam). Myself and Pat have a very good working relationship. As well as Auckland, he coached the AP Barbarians team in June 2012 and I think the fact that I was still in decent shape after all those years surprised him.
"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."