Waikanae won't be lacking for experience in the front row in the Horowhenua-Kāpiti club rugby final tomorrow.

When hooker Keith Milligan, 44, made his debut in the senior competition in 1996 the population of New Zealand was 3,762,300, Jim Bolger was Prime Minister, and Spice Girls had a number one hit with Wannabe.

Milligan had played 320 club games since then. His played his first season for Paraparaumu as a 21-year-old. He played 173 for Paraparaumu - his first two seasons at halfback - before joining Waikanae.

That's no mean feat - not to mention 104 games for Horowhenua-Kāpiti. He said he planned to continue playing for as long as he could.


"I'm finding it a bit tougher but I love it too much to give it away," he said. "I just love it."

Early in his career he had a bad run of injuries. In 2000 he had a knee reconstruction and the following season ruptured an ACL ligament. Since then his body had held up remarkable well.

"I tore a bicep two years ago, but that was towards the end of the season," he said.

Milligan was a former wrestler who represented New Zealand at the Oceania Championships, and also qualified for the Olympics in 1996, but New Zealand didn't send a team.

He gave wrestling away in 1997.