Rugby Legend Christian Cullen

 By: David A Hunter
Christian Cullen was one of the best fullbacks rugby union has ever seen. He had an accomplished career that started early, and sadly for rugby fans finished early as well. Cullen made his senior debut at the tender age of 18 for New Zealand provincial side Horowhenua in 1994. This would spur him on to represent New Zealand at U19 level, U21 and the full New Zealand 7's side before winning his first full cap for the All Blacks in 1996 at the age of 20 against Samoa.

Cullen really made his name as an awesome broken field runner for the Wellington Hurricanes in what was then the Super 12 competition. Cullen took part in the inaugural game of the Super Rugby competition versus the Auckland Blues and in all he made 85 appearances for the Hurricanes between 1996 and 2003. In that time he scored a total of 308 points for the Hurricanes including 56 tries.

Showing the form that kind of form in the Super 12 would obviously not go unnoticed by the All Black selectors and of course Cullen was capped 58 times in total between 1996 and 2002. Astonishingly following his debut in 1996 Cullen played in 51 consecutive tests for the All Blacks. This run only came to an end in 2001 because of a knee injury, which unfortunately was a sign of things to come for Cullen. He only added another 7 caps by the time he finished up for the All Blacks in 2002, although not retiring of his own accord but rather being seen as excess to requirements by John Mitchell who was then the New Zealand head coach.

Following his omission from the New Zealand world cup squad in 2003 Cullen took the decision to head for Irish provincial side Munster. Cullen spent the best part of 4 seasons at Munster before retiring in 2007 at the age of 31. This is quite a young age for any rugby player to retire, however his time at Munster was blighted by injury only making 44 appearances in 4 years. Perhaps a sad end to what was surely a fantastic career.
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