Fri, Jul 04, 2003 - Page 24 News List

Cullen gives up NZ rugby

AP , WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND

Shunned by the All Blacks selectors, record tryscorer Christian Cullen has quit New Zealand rugby to join Munster.

Munster released news of the contract on its Web site www.munsterrugby.ie , saying the Wellington fullback, who scored a national record 46 tries in 58 tests for New Zealand, had signed a three-year contract with the Irish club.

Cullen was quoted on the Munster Web site as saying he is looking forward to the move.

Cullen hasn't won selection for the All Blacks under coach John Mitchell this season and was known to be considering opportunities elsewhere.

His move precedes Sunday's announcement of a 26-man squad All Blacks for the 2003 Tri-Nations series. Mitchell made a rare public comment yesterday, wishing Cullen well. His statement appeared to indicate the 27-year-old fullback has no place in New Zealand's selection plans.

"You can only select so many All Blacks. He's been a very fine All Black and has served the All Blacks well," Mitchell said. "It's unfortunate that the All Black selectors have chosen that other players are better than him in the current game. He's made a choice and I wish him well."

No details of Cullen's financial package were revealed but reports estimated his annual income at NZ$900,000 (US$535,000).

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