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James Crombie/INPHO Muliaina has not yet featured on the pitch for Connacht.
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Ex-All Black Muliaina on course for Connacht debut later this month
Meanwhile, Kiwi hooker Tom McCartney joins Pat Lam’s squad this week.

FORMER NEW ZEALAND fullback Mils Muliaina is on course to make his Connacht debut later this month as his recovery from elbow surgery in April continues.

The 34-year-old joined Pat Lam’s squad earlier this season and has been performing a mentoring role with the province’s young backs. His first involvement on the pitch looks likely to come at the Sportsground against Zebre in the Pro12 on 21 November.

Darragh Leader has been first-choice 15 in Muliaina’s absence, while Shane Layden has started twice in the same jersey, but the return of the veteran will allow Lam a highly-experienced option at the back.

In a further boost, Kiwi hooker Tom McCartney arrives in Galway this week having completed his ITM Cup commitments with Auckland, who were knocked out in the Premiership semi-finals.

Connacht will announce details of McCartney’s expected playing debut next week.

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Jim Molony and Mils Muliaina James Crombie / INPHO S & C coach Jim Molony puts Muliaina through his paces in Galway. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Meanwhile, Lam’s men have begun a three-week break from games without the injured Niyi Adeolokun and George Naoupu.

The wing sprained an ankle in last weekend’s defeat to the Ospreys and will miss up to three weeks, while the No. 8 picked up a foot strain but should be back in full training ahead of the Zebre clash.

Miah Nikora, Finlay Bealham , Ronan Loughney, Mata Fifita, Tiernan O’Halloran are all expected to return from their injuries ahead of that home fixture against Italian opposition.

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