Above: Greg Mullany in action a fortnight ago against Norths, who won 13-10 that day so OBU will be eager to reverse that result and win their third Jubilee Cup in four years.
Hastings, Lisbon, Brisbane, Belfast, Melbourne and Wellington - Greg Mullany is a well-travelled rugby talent.
One destination he's never reached is the Jubilee Cup final.
This Saturday the veteran midfield back will at last have a crack at the capital’s ultimate prize.
“I haven't played a lot of finals before, but I've been in some high-pressure games,” Mullany observes.
“The key to success on Saturday will be trusting our systems and making sure we stem the tide. Norths are a big, physical side. If we allow them to get on a role, life will be difficult,” he continued.
Mullany has been rolling around the rugby planet since leaving St John’s, Hastings in 2005.
He played 65 games for Flaxmere and spent a season with Hastings Rugby & Sports before spells in Melbourne, Brisbane, Northern Ireland and an especially memorable two years in Portugal.
“Rugby’s given me some great opportunities. I guess I'm a true journeyman. My favorite place to play apart from New Zealand was Lisbon. The people, food, culture and weather were great,” Mullany reflects.
Mullany was an acclaimed figure at Poneke. He played 52 games and scored 484 points for the ‘street kids.’
In 2016, Mullany went within a whisker of a Jubilee Cup semi-final.
“We were second heading into the last round and lost to Wainuiomata. Matt Jacobs kicked a penalty from halfway in the last minute and we ended up fifth,” Mullany mourns.
“Poneke was a great club. We were a tight-knit group of boys and I really enjoyed my time there.”
Mullany had a spell with OBU in 2014, returning this season after being shoulder tapped from good friend Jamie Williams.
Mullany has played 16 games and scored 46 points for the Billygoats in 2018.
Mullany’s experience has helped stabilize a midfield ravaged by injures. Lock and flanker Will Mangos spent the best part of a month deputising in the backs.
“We've had a lot injuries this year. Losing Maile Koloto in the Swindale Shield was devastating,” Mullany concedes.
“The likes of Will Mangos, Izzy Foai and Jarred Verney have stepped up though. We're lucky to have a lot of depth,” Mullany asserts.
OBU have lost both games to Norths this season, each in contrasting fashion. Norths won a wild 13-try thriller in the Swindale Shield and a dour 13-10 scrap in the return Jubilee Cup encounter.
Since the end of the 2015 Swindale Shield, OBU have won two Jubilee Cups and 40 out of 49 games. What is the main reason for the winning culture?
“We've got great coaches who prepare thoroughly and senior players who set the tone for talented youngsters to follow. We've got a lot to play for this weekend. Tomasi Palu had to retire earlier in the season. He's one of our club legends. We’d love to do it for him.” Mullany responds.
Mullany is a Cook Islands native and has appeared for both the National sevens and fifteen squads. He is presently in the final year of a public health degree.
Recently, himself and brother Matt, who plays hooker for Johnsonville, travelled to Rarotonga and then Hong Kong to play for the Cook Islands in a 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifying tie. The Hong Kong side won the first match 26-3 and then 51-0 in the return leg a week later.
The Jubilee Cup final kicks off at 2:30pm at the Petone Rec on Saturday.