Cullen tips Savea for scoring record

Date published: November 3 2014

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All Blacks legend Christian Cullen has tipped Julian Savea to write his name into the record books as New Zealand’s greatest try-scorer.

All Blacks legend Christian Cullen has tipped Julian Savea to write his name into the record books as New Zealand’s greatest try-scorer.

Savea has notched an impressive 29 tries in 30 Tests for the All Blacks and has enjoyed particular success against England having crossed eight times in just four appearances against Stuart Lancaster’s side who he is set to face once again next Saturday.

“He’s improved out of sight in the last couple of years, I guess on the back of what the team has been doing, and his skill set now is great,” said Cullen, who notched 46 tries in 58 Tests between 1996 and 2002.

“Give him the ball 10m out from the line and you are pretty much guaranteed he will score a try – he is clearly a good guy to have on your team.”

Cullen’s try tally was an all-time New Zealand record until it was eclipsed by Doug Howlett who ended his career with 49 tries to his name while fellow Kiwis Joe Rokocoko (46) and Jeff Wilson (44) also among the most prolific try-scorers the game have ever seen.

Japan’s Daisuke Ohata holds the overall Test record with 69 tries between 1996 and 2006 while the leading top tier player is former Australia winger David Campese who notched 64 tries in 101 appearance between 1982 and 1996.

“All records are made to be broken, it is just a matter of time,” said Cullen.

“If he stays around long enough then these records will be broken. And if he does then that’s great for him and New Zealand because if he keeps on scoring tries then the All Blacks will keep on winning.”

Cullen earned the vast majority of his New Zealand caps at full-back and has taken great pleasure in watching the likes of Israel Dagg and Ben Smith give All Blacks coach Steve Hansen a welcome selection headache.

“It’s an interesting battle and great for us as supporters on the sidelines who do not have to pick one of them,” said Cullen.

“They are two extremely talented guys. Izzy Dagg has come back into some great form and Ben can clearly play. I think the guy who will lose out is Cory Jane, possibly as they want those two guys playing in the big games.

“It is a nice problem to have. These days wing and fullback are pretty similar and I’m sure Ben would rather play at wing or fullback rather than centre. Izzy has got something about him, an x-factor, and can turn a game and Ben just doesn’t make any mistakes, he is so solid.

“To be honest I couldn’t pick between them and that’s great for New Zealand.”

By Graham Jenkins

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