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Former All Black Mils Muliaina is leaving Connacht at the end of the season

The 34-year-old fullback is heading for Zebre in Italy.

CONNACHT HAVE CONFIRMED that former All Black Mils Muliaina will leave the province at the end of the current season.

The veteran fullback has signed a one-year contract with Guinness Pro12 side Zebre.

Mils Muliaina Muliaina is heading for Italy next season. Craig Thomas / INPHO Craig Thomas / INPHO / INPHO

Muliaina joined Connacht just last summer from the Chiefs in Super Rugby and has made ten appearances under head coach Pat Lam. The 100-times capped New Zealand international has been repeatedly praised for his mentoring influence on the squad’s young players since arriving in Galway.

However, Lam’s squad will be shorn of Muliaina’s experience this summer when he heads for Italian shores to join Zebre. The Parma-based club are currently rock bottom of the Pro12.

“Even in one quick year, Mils has made a lasting contribution to Connacht rugby,” said head coach Lam of Muliaina’s impending departure.

His influence on and off the field with our young squad has been invaluable and I know the players, particularly the backs, have benefited from his vast experience. A big part of our growth as a team this season has been around challenging each other to reach higher standards and Mils was massive in driving this.

“He has really embraced the Connacht culture and he’s made a big effort to get out amongst the community and I know the supporters have enjoyed meeting and getting to know him.

Mils Muliaina celebrates after the game Muliaina celebrates January's win over Munster in Galway. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

“For me personally it was fantastic to have the opportunity to work with him again and on behalf of everyone, I’d like to thank Mils and wish him all the best in Italy and with Zebre.”

Meanwhile, Muliaina spoke about his excitement at the next chapter in his career:

“I am really looking forward to my move to Italy to join Zebre Rugby,” said Muliaina. “I have always been a big believer of passing my knowledge and experience of the game on to other up and coming rugby players.

With the experience I have had playing in Milan and Rome with the All Blacks, I know the Italians are very passionate about rugby in their country. Joining Zebre allows me to maintain the appetite I have to succeed as a rugby player.

“After chatting to Brendon [Leonard, former Chiefs team-mate who has been in Parma since 2013] about his time in Zebre I am looking forward to an exciting season ahead.”

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