Boss relishing Muliaina reunion

Isaac Boss and Mils Muliaina go back a long way, 15 years at the very least, so there are few men better qualified than the Leinster scrum-half to judge just what the All Black legend brings to his new home in Connacht.

Boss relishing Muliaina reunion

Boss hails from Tokorua in the northern tip of the North Island. Muliaina moved to Invercargill at the far end of the South Island from Samoa when he was two, but they came together to represent their country at U19 level in 1999.

New Zealand had never entered the now defunct U19 World Cup before that year’s tournament in Wales, but they made up for it with a dream team that boasted — aside from those two — Richie McCaw, Jerry Collins, Aaron Mauger and Tony Woodcock.

That collection defeated an Ireland side that was defending its world title from the year before 21-15 in the semi-final on their way to the title.

Even then, Boss could see the qualities that would allow Muliaina progress to win a century of senior caps with the All Blacks, and attain legendary status in a country not short of greats.

“He was with the All Blacks from a young age, but had a couple of significant injuries over the last few years as well,” said Boss ahead of their reunion on Friday, when Leinster and Connacht meet at the RDS in the Guinness Pro12.

“If he didn’t have those injuries, he could have won a lot more than 100 caps.”

Boss hasn’t been speaking to his old team-mate since the latter’s arrival in Ireland but knows his arrival, and that of Bundee Aki, spells good news for the western province.

“I don’t know if it’s added too much of a different dimension, but it strengthens them. It probably takes the load off guys like (Robbie) Henshaw’s shoulders and the young 10s. They can express themselves a bit more and that is probably key for Connacht.

“Those two guys coming in, with their experience, can take hard decisions or step up to the plate if they need to and let the rest of the guys just worry about their own performance and not worry too much about being in control of the game as much.”

Leinster’s recent results are actually superior to those of Connacht, with one defeat in eight games as opposed to four wins from five, but the vibe around Dublin is much more negative, as the province struggles to hit a vein of form or even score tries.

Yet, Matt O’Connor’s side are very much in the hunt for a place in the knockout stages of the Champions Cup, and lie within touching distance of the Pro12’s play-off places, despite the criticism received on the back of their two displays against Harlequins of late.

“Quins are not a bad side,” said Boss. “People are probably getting up in arms saying we are not playing attractive rugby or something like that and, to be honest, one person reports it and it gathers a lot of legs, and everyone starts jumping on that as well.

“At the end of the day, you want to be winning these. It’s up to us to grab our game, but Quins wouldn’t let us play the type of game the fans wanted to see.”

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