Christian Cullen hopes to be born again 13.11.05 By Gregor Paul There's nothing Christian Cullen would like more than one injury-free season where he can show Munster they were right to throw a sackful of euros at him. The former All Black fullback has managed just 30 games since arriving in Limerick two years ago. A shoulder injury will keep him out of action until at least February next year giving him only a few months before his three-year contract expires. They will be precious months for Cullen. He needs to do enough to convince Munster to have him back. At 29, Cullen said he doesn't have the inclination to "up sticks" and try his hand anywhere else if Munster don't want him beyond June 2006. The prospect of going to play rugby in a non-English speaking country terrifies him and England holds little interest. Retirement is a serious option and it's definitely higher up the agenda than returning to New Zealand to see out his career with Manawatu. "It's been frustrating," he said of so much time on the sidelines caused by two shoulder operations. "I need to get my body right in the next six months. I'm in the last year of my contract with Munster and then we'll have to see. If they want me to stay on, I'd like to. I really want one full season without injury. "If I can't get my body right or if Munster don't want me then I'd have to take a look around. I guess that might be time to hang up my boots. To tell you the truth, I really couldn't be bothered going somewhere I had to learn a new language. It is hard enough having to settle into a new place and play football without having the hassle of having to learn a second language. "I heard the rumour about me going to Manawatu. They haven't been in touch and I don't really fancy getting hammered by 60 points every week. I've said if I go back to New Zealand it'll be to retire." His desire to go beyond next June isn't about safeguarding his future. There is money in the bank. Enough certainly for him to be able to buy a few bedrooms back in Paekakariki. It's about honouring his obligations to Munster, who stole his heart the moment he arrived. They paid big money for a player whom they reckoned was still capable of running flat-out while dancing on a beer mat. They haven't seen much evidence of that in the last couple of years and it bothers Cullen that they might think they bought a dud. Most importantly, though, Cullen wants a contract extension so he doesn't slip out of the game. He feels he needs to end things on a high. Not just because he doesn't want to be boring late-night drinkers about what he used to be but because he believes he can still make an impact at the highest level. "If you are asking if I'm the same player as when I was 22, then the answer is no," said Cullen. "Age catches up with you and injuries haven't helped. There's also a different style of football over here. It is more forward-orientated and the weather can be pretty tough. Seriously, there have been a few games where I didn't touch the ball. "But I'm a wiser, more experienced player. I won't be running 100 yards for solo tries but I will be helping to put a younger, quicker bloke away. Your mentality changes. You think more about passing." Having spent so much time on the sidelines, it's apparent Cullen has done a lot of thinking. Enough to clear his mind of any negative vibes that were resonating about the way his test career ended. He harbours no resentment that former All Black coach John Mitchell tossed him away like an oily rag and then gave one of his only interviews to explain why he believed Cullen was no longer worthy of the jersey. That's all been dealt with. Time has proven to be a great healer and Cullen confesses to being a massive All Black fan. "I love watching the All Blacks, especially this team. When they are on fire they can kill any team. They can score tries from anywhere." He loves them enough to travel to Dublin for the test, where he was hoping to catch up with his good friend Tana Umaga. They would have had much better things to talk about but, if the subject came up, Cullen would have let Umaga know that he was staggered that Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll got so much mileage out of that tackle. "That's rugby," was Cullen's succinct analysis of the alleged spear tackle on O'Driscoll by Umaga and Keven Mealamu in the first test against the Lions. "Injuries happen - I'm testament to that. I can't really see any point in dragging the whole issue up again and again." If Cullen comes across as bored with the whole saga, it's because he is. It is also partly because he has his own things to worry about. His career could be ending without an appropriate ending for his once-in-a-lifetime talent. His All Black try-scoring record is under threat from Joe Rokocoko, Umaga, Doug Howlett and probably even Tony Woodcock the way Graham Henry has the side playing. He shouldn't worry too much, though. Even if he exits the sport having barely made a squeak in Ireland, or his name is wiped from the record books, the legend that was Christian Cullen is preserved for eternity. - HERALD ON SUNDAY This Guy will always be a Legend in my books, The greatest ALL BLACK Full Back in History, One of the most Dangerous players ever, I mean not even Joe Rokocoko or Doug Howlett could create something from nothing like he did. I also think he was one of the many most COMPLETE players in the game, Jeff WIlson and Christian Cullen. Cullen could kick,Tackle, Run, Step, with the best of them at any of those skills. That little part I highlighted, Is so true, Playing Rugby in NZ and Tonga was way different. I love the Flair game, Backs and FOwards all involved.I dont get many, If any opportunities with the ball in Space.