New Zealand v Wales, Carisbrook, June 19
Muliaina battling for Hamilton return
June 16, 2010
New Zealand's Mils Muliaina in action during a training session, Trusts Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand, August 12, 2009
Mils Muliaina is still battling a calf strain © Getty Images

All Black fullback Mils Muliaina is still fighting the calf strain that ruled him out of Saturday's meeting with Wales at Carisbrook and it remains unclear whether the Chiefs stalwart will be able to feature in the return fixture in Hamilton next weekend.

Muliaina played 50 minutes at fly-half for Te Rapa in Hamilton club rugby last weekend and medical staff have put him on a "12-day programme" designed to have him fit to face Wales on his home ground. The 82-Test back's frustration has been doubled by the fact that he has already fought back from a broken thumb which ended his Super 14 season early.

"It's frustrating and Mils is being driven up the wall," All Blacks coach Graham Henry said. "He's getting better and the graph is slowly going up. We've got to be sensible and it's going to come right at some stage. The sooner the better."

In Muliaina's absence impressive youngster Israel Dagg has inherited the No.15 jersey and Henry is excited by the prospect of the duo spurring each other on to greater heights. Dagg starts against Wales in Dunedin, having made an impressive bow against Ireland last time out.

"It's a great call for both guys," he said. "They'll lift the standard and they'll be competing against each other. It's good for the All Blacks and it'll be good for them. It should bring the best out of both of them.

"Mils hasn't been there since 2002 without having real qualities. He's played 82 test matches. He's a world class player with a world-class attitude and that hasn't changed."


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