Muliaina set for Super comeback
Muliaina set for Super comebackSHARE
All Black fullback Mils Muliaina is poised to make a shock return to Super Rugby next year after being included in a Chiefs squad bolstered by a couple of big-name signings.
The 33-year-old made 100 Test appearances, the last during the 2011 World Cup, before taking up a contract with Japanese club Red Hurricanes.
Another surprise inclusion is that of All Black centre Robbie Fruean.
The 25-year-old former Crusaders midfielder is back to full training after undergoing heart-valve surgery and is relishing his return.
"I am thankful for the chance to return to rugby at this level and am really looking forward to the Chiefs' environment and the beginning of a new and important chapter for me,'' Fruean told Fox Sports.
Muliaina will join the Chiefs in February after completing his club commitments in Japan, while Fruean will be with the majority of the squad who will assemble on Thursday, November 28 and will be joined by the Maori All Blacks in mid December and the All Blacks in late January.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said the All Black duo are great additions to the squad.
"We know the value they will add to our side. Robbie is big and powerful and Mils is one of the most experienced players in New Zealand rugby.''
The Chiefs have also snapped up All Black prop and former Highlanders captain Jamie Mackintosh and former Crusaders utility back Tom Marshall.
The back-to-back champions have named 13 new recruits in all, which include seven players who will be involved in Super Rugby for the first time, having earned selection from the NPC.
Rennie believes his squad will be an effective blend of experienced proven performers and new talent. The squad contains five current All Blacks, five Maori All Blacks and 26 players who have previously been involved in winning a Super Rugby title.
“We are really happy. We have a solid core of players who have been a big part of our success over the past two years and added both youth and experience to the mix.
“It’s a very tough competition, so we're rapt we've been able to assemble a group of men high on character and work ethic,“ said Rennie.
In a new initiative, the Chiefs are progressing with the possibility of playing Toulon in France as part of their pre-season campaign but there are still a few boxes to tick. The Chiefs are expected to finalise their pre-season matches in the coming weeks.
The Chiefs will kick off their Super Rugby season against the Crusaders on Friday, February 21 in Christchurch and will play their first home game against the Highlanders in Hamilton on Saturday, March 1.
2014 Chiefs squad: Ben Afeaki, Bundee Aki, Gareth Anscombe, Sam Cane, Nick Crosswell, Aaron Cruden, Hikawera Elliot, Ross Filipo, Mike Fitzgerald, Robbie Fruean, Josh Hohneck, Andrew Horrell, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Tanerau Latimer, James Lowe, Jamie Mackintosh, Pauliasi Manu, Rhys Marshall, Tom Marshall, Liam Messam, Mils Muliaina, Tim Nanai-Williams, Charlie Ngatai, Augustine Pulu, Brodie Retallick, Robbie Robinson, Mahonri Schwalger, Liam Squire, Matthew Symons, Ben Tameifuna, Kane Thompson, Asaeli Tikoirotuma.
Wider training group: Carl Axtens, Nick Barrett, Anton Lienert-Brown, Tevita Kolomatangi, Brad Weber.