Muliaina out for rest of Super 14
April 6, 2010
Mils Muliaina will miss the remainder of the Super 14 © Getty Images
Chiefs skipper Mils Muliaina has been ruled out of the remainder of the Super 14 with a broken thumb.
The All Black fullback picked up the injury in his side's 27-21 victory over the Highlanders on Saturday and will now be sidelined for six to eight weeks. New Zealand's first Test of the year is against Ireland in New Plymouth on June 12 and Graham Henry will hope to have one of his most experienced players on board.
The Chiefs have been ravaged by injuries in recent weeks and have also slipped to seventh in the table despite a flying start to the season. Wing Sitiveni Sivivatu, openside Tanerau Latimer and props Nathan White and James McGougan missed victory over the Highlanders while hooker Aled de Malmanche and lock Kevin O'Neill are also out with thumb and Achilles injuries respectively.
Liam Messam will take the captain's armband in Muliaina's absence but coach Ian Foster is faced with a selection dilemma in the No.15 jersey prior to Friday's meeting with the Bulls. In the opening rounds of the season Mike Delany filled in for Muliaina while he was on leave, but the diminutive Bay of Plenty pivot added a fresh dimension to the Chiefs' attack when handed a chance in the No.10 jersey at the weekend.
All Black fly-half Stephen Donald also benefited from the move, playing well at inside-centre and scoring an excellent try. Utility back Dwayne Sweeney will be an option at fullback should Foster opt to retain his new playmaking combo.
The Bulls, who had their unbeaten run ended by the Blues at Eden Park last Saturday, have also been hit by injuries heading into Friday's match. Centre Jaco Pretorius is out for at least two weeks with a fractured eye socket and will miss matches against the Chiefs and Reds, while flanker Derick Kuun (ankle ligaments) has been ruled out of the game in Hamilton.