Muliaina's solid start
February 26, 2002

Doug Howlett and Rupeni Caucaunibuca may be grabbing the headlines, but Mils Muliaina was another who impressed in the Blues' 60-7 thrashing of the Hurricanes.

"He is the sort of guy who could play with the numbers 11, 13, 14 or 15 on his back and be equally good," Blues assistant coach Grant Fox said. "His skill sets are high and he has the talent to play well wherever we pick him."

Against the Hurricanes it was fullback where Muliaina slotted in, but now Auckland is faced with a dilemma, with Caucaunibuca suffering an injury and ruled out of this week's clash against the Queensland Reds at Ballymore.

Fullback Hayden Taylor is still not over a hamstring strain and unlikely to play, while another option for selectors when they name their squad on Wednesday is to promote North Harbour utility Hayden Reid straight on to the wing.

"Losing Rupeni was a blow for us because he has been such a big weapon but that is the nature of the competition and you have to deal with it," Fox said. "We will take more dings before the end of the series."

Meanwhile All Black lock Chris Jack won't play in the Crusaders' round two clash with the Chiefs on Friday because of a neck and shoulder injury, similar to whiplash, that he suffered in a tackle against the Highlanders.

"I'll have this week off and just give it another week to get right. I don't want to have this right through the season and have it niggle me later on when we might have some crucial games," Jack said.

Crusaders coaches Robbie Deans and Colin Cooper will not confirm their starting 15 until Wednesday, but New Zealand Colts lock Bradley Mika, who made his Super 12 debut as Jack's replacement last week, is likely to make his first start in Hamilton.

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