Cullen in switch to centre
From Huw Turner in Auckland
September 15, 1999
Speculation is growing in New Zealand that John Hart will start the World Cup campaign with Christian Cullen playing in the centre, writes Huw Turner.
At the All Blacks' training camp in Palmerston North at the weekend Hart played Cullen in that position in a trial behind closed doors.
Centre has been a troublesome position this season, Alama Ieremia occupying the spot but failing to impress many observers.
Cullen made his reputation as a devastating, counter attacking full back, but this is an area where the All Blacks have an abundance of riches.
Following an impressive Super 12 campaign at full back for the Otago Highlanders, Jeff Wilson swapped places with Cullen for the first test match of the season against Manu Samoa. This switch, despite some initial reservations, has been generally well received.
Concern with All Black back play this season has focused on the failure of the midfield backs to set up their wingers consistently. Cullen does not offer an obvious solution, distribution is not his forte, pinning his ears back and making a bee line for the opposition try line is, but moving him into the centre vacates a wing spot for Jonah Lomu.
That prospect is not a comforting one for defenders expecting to find themselves in Lomu's way as the World Cup rapidly approaches.