Connacht's biggest signing, All Black centurion Mils Muliaina, arrived in Connacht last evening.
The 34-years-old former New Zealand rugby captain flew into Shannon where he was met by Connacht manager Tim Allnutt to begin his one-year contract with the Irish province.
However Connacht coach Pat Lam, in London at the launch of the new Guinness Pro 12 season, says the Samoan-born Muliainia, will not see any action until October's end as he continues his recovery from elbow surgery which has been keeping him out of action for the Chiefs.
Lam's two other Kiwi signings, fellow Chief and centre Bundi Aki and prop Tom McCartney, are currently ITM Cup tied with Counties, and all three are expected to start playing for their new province some time in October.
“Muliaina will go straight into Connacht Rugby's leadership's group and be ready to go in October, and all three will pretty much start to play at the same time,” says Lam.
“When you have someone who has 100 caps for the All Blacks, been involved in the leadership group with the All Blacks and with Auckland when I was coaching, you don't need him to do all the talking, but to contribute. It will be massive to offer that, and he will start the mentoring, particularly with Robbie Henshaw, Kieron Marmion and Jack Carty.”
Although Lam believes the former All Black captain can play at the top level, Muliaina's role "is not to come in and be the savior, but to come in and have a much wider brief.”
The new rugby season kicks off next weekend with Connacht hosting the Dragons on Saturday (5pm ) at the Galway Sportsground. The new European qualification has added considerable bite to the competition, promising the Guinness Pro 12 will be highly competitive for all teams. And with 227 international players from 14 countries, in addition to Guinness as title sponsors and Sky Sports as new broadcasters, the competition is expected to continue its year-on-year growth.