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Muliaina thriving in French atmosphere

Sportal.co.nz     12 Sep 2007    

Muliaina was originally named at fullback against Italy but had to move to centre when Conrad Smith suffered a hamstring strain.

"I chased a lot of ball," he said of how quickly he was able to transfer from one position to the other. "I was pretty happy with the way I adjusted. But that was because the forwards simply did their job. I just did the basics, and chased hard. The game was virtually won in the first 30 minutes.

"We started pretty well and that just made the whole job easier."

Muliaina said he has been impressed with how France has embraced the World Cup.

"It is different to what it was in 2003," he said.

He made the point that the All Blacks played many of their games in Melbourne and were out of the swing of things and not enjoying anything like the 60,000 crowd that watched New Zealand's first game.

"This time around it is crazy. To have 60,000 at a pool game was amazing.

"The people of France have gotten right behind it," he said.

"The people of France have been great while the people of Marseille have been very welcoming."

While the opposition might by lowly Portugal, Muliaina said that wouldn't affect the All Blacks.

There were several things they didn't do well in the first match and they had to address those in a match situation.

"Portugal will enjoy playing us, but we have to raise the bar a little more," he said.

Muliaina said that while there was competition for places within the All Blacks camp and many in Saturday's game would have their chance to stake a place for starting positions, that was something the All Blacks had worked on for the past two or three years.

"That has been shown with our success and hopefully by the end of the tournament it can be shown again," he said.