Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Chiefs eye Muliaina to replace Sonny Bill

Mils Muliaina could fill many holes for the Chiefs next season. Picture / NZPA
Mils Muliaina could fill many holes for the Chiefs next season. Picture / NZPA

The Chiefs are looking to former skipper Mils Muliaina to fill their midfield vacancy next season.

Muliaina is playing in Japan but reports that he is contemplating a return home pricked interest from the Chiefs about him as a potential replacement for Sonny Bill Williams.

Williams heads the other way for a season in Japan once his Super 15 commitments are over and then perhaps another NRL stint, reportedly with the Sydney Roosters.

His departure will leave the Chiefs with Jackson Willison in midfield and perhaps Andrew Horrell, but he has shown real instincts for work at fullback.

When Muliaina started provincial rugby he was a centre before he switched to fullback with the All Blacks and played 100 tests.

Last month, he was reported to be missing rugby in New Zealand and keen to play out his days here.

He has links to both the Blues and Chiefs but his time with the latter franchise, their success this season, a vacancy on their roster and the challenge of filling a new position, were all said to have sparked Muliaina's and the Chiefs' interest.

He played 49 games for the Blues and then 55 for the Chiefs as he captained them through their last three seasons.

Chiefs assistant coach Wayne Smith was reported to be intrigued by Muliaina's thoughts about a return to the franchise and his ability to cover a range of backline roles.

Muliaina is 32 this month and plays for NTT Docomo.

Having finished second after losing their final round match to the Hurricanes, the Chiefs host the winner of tonight's playoff match between the Reds and the Sharks, in Hamilton next Friday night.

- NZ Herald

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