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Cullen's Manawatū stepping-stone

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OPINION: Today Christian Cullen would have been pounced on by some moneyed school and Manawatū would never have nabbed him.

He was from Paekakariki and yet nearby Wellington didn't come calling until he'd had three years with Manawatū and the Central Vikings from 1995 to 1997.

That bit is barely mentioned in Sky TV 's documentary Christian Cullen: A Tribute to Greatness, in which the clips of his best tries attest to the title. Just a pity the serious doco narrator sounds straight off Police Ten-7.

Today we consider Ben Smith a great fullback, but Cullen with his gas, timing, strength and stepping was next level – the way he could take off and when anyone laid a hand on him he simply blew away.

* Bull Allen leads from the front in all-time ManCanes team
* Who should be in the all-time Manawatū Hurricanes XV backline?
* The last word on Manawatū's expensive alliance with the eastern enemy
* Twenty years on from the Central Vikings experiment

From Kāpiti College he joined the Paraparaumu club and played for Horowhenua before Brian Toki brought him to Kia Toa.

The link was Frank Oliver, who had coached Cullen in the New Zealand under-19s........

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