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


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Local Partners

9 reasons to take the kids to Woodford Folk Festival

WOODFORD Folk Festival is packed full of wonders, workshops and transformative experience for adults, but guess what? There's a whole festival for children too.

Kernaghan's a 'boy from the bush' with a timeless quality

Country music singer Lee Kernaghan.

Lee Kernaghan is celebrating the 25th year of his breakthrough song.

Man builds playground entirely out of packing tape

Artist Eric Lennartson is in the process of completing his huge tape sculpture at the Ipswich Art Gallery.

VIDEO:And here's where you can play on it.

Countdown to Woodford Folk Festival begins

ECONOMIC BOON: Woodford Folk Festival is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.  Photo Contributed

The first larger-than-life inhabitants have stepped into Woodfordia

EXCLUSIVE: Meet Robert Irwin, wildlife photographer

SNAPPER: Apart from wildlife, photography is Robert Irwin's great passion.

Steve's boy has a passion for photography

Louis Tomlinson's tribute to late mother

Louis Tomlinson's new single is a tribute to his late mother.

Justin Timberlake stuns students with secret class

Justin Timberlake stunned high school students in Sydney

Carrie Fisher says Ford will be bugged by affair confession

Carrie Fisher is sure Harrison Ford is annoyed at her

Dakota Fanning rekindles romance with childhood sweetheart

Dakota Fanning rekindles romance with ex

9 reasons to take the kids to Woodford Folk Festival

FAMILY FREINDLY: Woodford Folk Festival has something for everyone.

If you're thinking about leaving the kids at home, think again

Essential to get new Maroochydore CBD fundamentals right

LOOKING AHEAD: The central business district at Maroochydore is planned to be the heart of the Sunshine Coast.

SunCentral reports good progress on 53ha Sunshine Coast city heart

'Crucial' farm land eyed by defence department

Lawson Geddes moving the Brangus cattle to higher ground - which is the land the Defence Department is interested taking for the Shoalwater Bay expansion.

"You can't have one without the other.”

Former Shark Show for sale for $1.3 million

Vic Hislop at the old Shark Show.

TALK about a jaws-dropping real estate opportunity.

There's a whole lot of luxury in this home

The Endeavour Foundation's latest prize home in Mountain Creek.

WHEN it comes to desirable homes, it's hard to go past a prize home.

Ipswich City Properties asset portfolio retains its value

Ipswich City Council Administration Building, South Street, Ipswich. Photo: Claudia Baxter / The Queensland Times

New website launched by Ipswich City Council

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!