Travel

Where have you been? - Mils Muliaina

Former All Black Mils Muliaina, son Max, 4, and their family are back in New Zealand from Japan to visit family. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Former All Black Mils Muliaina, son Max, 4, and their family are back in New Zealand from Japan to visit family. Photo / Sarah Ivey Sarah Ivey

HE'S just got in after a 10-hour flight from Tokyo and his wife and son are just behind him, stuck in customs.

Mils Muliaina parks his luggage trolley at arrivals, obliging a lengthening line of exuberant Japanese who want their photo taken with the fullback. Aside from a splint on a dislocated finger, the 32-year-old looks ready to take on the Boks.

What a player he's been. But you'd embarrass him if you were to genuflect, or talk about his place in the pantheon of great All Black fullbacks, especially if you reminded him that he played more tests - exactly 100 - than any of those legends, and never had a bad game (at least not one anyone can remember).

He lives in the moment. And for now, that's Osaka, Japan. Mils plays for NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes in the Top League. He's loving it, especially the food.

"Everyone thinks Japan is sushi, but it's everything. They basically take food from other countries and make it better. Apart from hangi food - I haven't seen any hangi food over there."

It's not all feasting, of course. Mils is there to play rugby and although the Red Hurricanes are performing poorly - they've lost their last 19 games - he's enjoying himself.

"Playing in Japan gives you the ability to do whatever you want, really. I'm playing in the centres, though I'm bigger than most of the props. Honestly, I'm not lying! The boys over there are like, 'Man, you're so big'.

"But while they're small, they never stop running. They're tenacious. And brave - they tackle really low."

Their attitude, he says, can't be faulted. "But it's kinda odd when they start talking about players you've played with - players they idolise.

"They've got the pictures on their phones. They're always watching YouTube. We'll be on the bus and they'll be watching the Tri-Nations on their tablets. Watching Dan's 'greatest hits'."

Mils laughs. Now he's joined by wife Hayley and 4-year-old son, Max, a probable selection in the All Blacks 2031 World Cup squad.

They're off to Invercargill, his old home-town - he still rolls his Rs - to see the Muliaina whanau, then returning to Auckland to see Hayley's family. Then it's back to Japan - and back to rugby.

"Life is good," he says, smiling. "Different. But good."

Topics:  new zealand, travel




Rope off opening for Muster

NEW DAWN: The sun comes up over a cold Muster campsite at Poulsen's Paddock.

Campsites are being opened for rope off starting from Sunday

Is there room in your home - and heart - for us?

TAKE ME HOME: Mango likes living at the Gympie RSPCA Animal Care Centre but would love a forever home with a family of his own.

Mango and Sabrina want to come and live with you

Less than 48 hours left to get yourself a FREE tablet

Only two more days to get one of these free!

ONLY two days left to score yourself a FREE Samsung tablet.

Latest deals and offers

Thy Art Is Murder are killing it

See Thy Art is Murder on their killer tour happening right now. Photo Contributed

We talk with Thy Art is Murder about touring, babies, and new music

Date announced for Prince tribute concert

A Prince tribute concert will take place later this year

Matt Damon is taking a break from acting

Matt Damon is taking a break to spend time with his family

Police foiled terrifying 1m plot to kidnap Katie Price

Police foiled a £1 million plot to kidnap Katie Price and her family

Kristen Bell's baby confession

Kristen Bell once pretended to be asleep when her baby woke up early

Babylon 5's Jerry Doyle has died

Jerry Doyle has died from unknown causes at the age of 60

Is Gympie having a building boom?

There is plenty of building activity happening around the Gympie region.

New home approvals for Gympie region double

You can own this Queensland town for just $1

Yelarbon

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

72-year-old Coast developer set to start new project

GREEN LIGHT: The Cosmopolitan has been approved for development at Cotton Tree.

Meet the Canberran set to deliver another chapter for Coast suburb

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd

Ecco Ripley sales run sparks prime release

MOVING IN: Sekisui House has announced the release of more residential blocks at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House is preparing to unveil more land at Ecco Ripley