All Blacks legend makes bold Christian Cullen comparison for ‘explosive’ Hurricanes star

Colin Newboult
All Blacks legend Christian Cullen alongside Hurricanes star Ruben Love.

All Blacks legend Christian Cullen alongside Hurricanes star Ruben Love.

Justin Marshall believes that New Zealand could have a potential star on their hands in the shape of playmaker Ruben Love.

The 22-year-old has enjoyed an outstanding start to the season, becoming first choice full-back for the Hurricanes in Super Rugby Pacific.

Love has started most of their games in 2024, helping them to top the standings following eight successive victories in the competition.

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His form will no doubt attract the attention of new All Blacks head coach Scott Robertson, who is set to take charge of his first match in July.

New Zealand will face England and Fiji in the mid-year series and the ‘Canes playmaker, who also covers fly-half, could well be involved at some point given his performances this season.

Although he will find it a challenge to get into the 23 for the opening two matches against the Red Rose, with Beauden Barrett and Damian McKenzie available and also able to play at 10 and 15, the youngster is putting himself in the frame in 2024.

Marshall has been particularly impressed with Love and believes that the way he plays the game is not too dissimilar to the great Christian Cullen, as well as a current All Blacks back three star.

“When you think of the style of player that Will Jordan is, who’s out of the game at the moment, Ruben Love really reminds me of him. He also reminds me a bit of Christian Cullen, with the way he used to play,” he told The Breakdown.

“The explosive step that he’s got and the ability of him to think about counter-attack first. Not to think when he gets kicked the ball, ‘okay I’ll kick it back.’ It’s like, ‘Can I open up this defence by running at them and taking on a defender that I see is compromised?’

“I just love that attitude and I think his spark and his energy is a big part of why the Hurricanes are so dangerous, particularly on counter-attack.”

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Another great weighs in

Fellow New Zealand legend Jeff Wilson is also a fan of the 22-year-old but felt that Marshall was setting a “high bar” for the ‘Canes talent.

Wilson was asked about five players he would like to see tied down long-term by New Zealand Rugby and his list included Love.

“The Ruben Love one is definitely a now and in the future. He’s a guy that’s going to continue to develop. The fact you compared him to Christian Cullen, that’s a high bar,” he said.

“He’s got some of those traits but to me he reminds me of early Beauden Barrett. The same thing, ball in hand, ready to go.”

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