My favourite All Black and one who has usually not failed to provide success for me in the “score a try” bet is Mils Muliaina. It seemed like half the country were concerned about who the number 15 should be and how obvious to everyone that it had to be the new younger Israel Dagg and not the vastly experienced but apparently aging Mils (oh to be 31!). Check him out here on the All Blacks site - his rugby career is truly impressive. You’ll also learn that his real name is Malili.
When All Black coach Graham Henry selected Dagg ahead of Mils he described it as one of the hardest and most emotional decisions of his coaching career. Henry has been involved through much of Mils’ first class career and in that moment we caught a glimpse of tenderness and compassion in leadership, so often put to one side. After all this is Rugby,
The photo here catches the mood perfectly. It shows the wonderful leadership relationship between an older mentor and a younger high performing and deeply respectful mentee. I can feel the pain for them both.
Mils for his part (I hope no-one minds me calling him by his first name even though I’ve never met him) said that all he wanted is for the All Blacks to win. He would happily do that from the field, the bench or the stands. Amazing maturity and team commitment.
Whether he gets to 100 test caps or not, he’s an inspiration for leaders and teams everywhere. And Henry, for showing his tenderness showed why you never ever hear of dissention in the All Blacks these days. Honest, caring and driven. That’s a recipe for success. We saw that all come together with the best rugby skills on the planet on Saturday.
Go the All Blacks!
Go tender men everywhere.