Super Rugby
Muliaina eager to get underway
ESPNscrum Staff
February 15, 2011

Mils Muliaina will be present and correct for the Chiefs' Super Rugby opener against the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday and the All Black fullback is excited by the prospect of kicking off the new campaign.

The 30-year-old was given the first three weeks off last season to allow him a bit more of a breather after a busy 2009 but it took him time to get back into the swing when he returned to action, and he was then restricted to just four matches for the Chiefs because of thumb and calf injuries.

"I had gone away and refreshed a bit mentally, and I felt pretty good, but it probably took me a while to get back into the rhythm of the team," he said. "Certainly this year, I'm looking forward to getting stuck in from day one."

Once he had found his feet, Muliaina embarked on a wildly successful season and produced some of his best rugby in helping New Zealand to a Tri-Nations clean sweep and Grand Slam tour.

By year's end, he and All Black skipper Richie McCaw were tied as the most capped players in New Zealand rugby history, with 94 appearances each.

At the start of what will be another gruelling campaign, with the Rugby World Cup at its conclusion, Muliaina has backed the new conference format in Super Rugby, which has teams from the same country face each other twice and increasing the number of playoff spots from four to six.

"I think it's great," he said. "It's all pretty new to everyone and that's the whole exciting part about it. Obviously the top six gives you a better opportunity to get yourselves into the playoff scenario. The local derbies are going to be massive. There's no doubting that, when New Zealanders play each other, there's a lot of battered bodies at the end of the game."

Meanwhile, Blues playmaker Luke McAlister has been sidelined by concussion for Saturday's opener against the Crusaders in Auckland.

McAlister was injured early in his side's pre-season draw with the Chiefs in Pukekohe last Friday. Coach Pat Lam told Radio New Zealand that McAlister had failed a concussion test this week but the team were hopeful he'll be passed fit for their second match against the Sharks in Durban on February 27. Canterbury's Stephen Brett will replace McAlister in the run-on side.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Live Sports

Communication error please reload the page.

  • Football

  • Cricket

  • Rugby

    • Days
    • Hrs
    • Mins
    • Secs

    F1 - French GP

  • OtherLive >>

    Snooker - China Open
    Tennis - Miami Open