Mils Muliaina signs for Pat Lam's Connacht
All Black centurion and injured Chiefs utility back Mils Muliaina has signed a one-year deal to join Pat Lam's Connacht in Ireland.
The 33-year-old World Cup winner becomes the first All Black to sign with the unfashionable Irish province who look to be building something special under the former Auckland and Blues coach.
Muliaina is on his second stint with the Chiefs and last played for Lam at Auckland from 2004-2005. Connacht has signed the New Zealander as a "player-mentor" and part of his role will be to assist in the development of the young Irish talent at the club.
The former 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 fractured his shoulder in that game and played no further part in the tournament, departing after the All Blacks' triumph to take up a playing contract in Japan.
He has played Super Rugby for the Blues and Chiefs (twice), but had his return this year cut short after requiring surgery on a niggling elbow injury
"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," said Lam via Connacht's website.
"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.
"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 said he was excited to be heading to Ireland to continue his career and joining an ever expanding Kiwi connection in Galway..
"I've obviously had a good chat with some of the boys at the club - Nathan (White) and Clarkey (Craig Clarke) - 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. 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.
"Moving to the other side of the world is a challenge but one that I'm really looking forward to. 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.
"Right now I'm fully focused on my recovery and getting myself ready to hit the ground running when I arrive in Ireland."
Muliaina is expected to arrive in Galway at the conclusion of the Super Rugby season and will join the already signed Bundee Aki and Tom McCartney, as well as fellow Kiwis White and Clarke.
- Fairfax Media
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