Cullen stays put in NZ for season with Stars
Silver Ferns midcourt defender Kayla Cullen won’t be joining fiance Shaun Johnson over the ditch next year, as she remains committed to playing another netball season in New Zealand.
Johnson signed a three-year deal with the Cronulla Sharks last week, just three days after being granted a release by the Warriors.
The Kiwi NRL star’s long-term move to Sydney raised suspicion that Cullen would take her netball services across the Tasman and play in Australia’s Super Netball competition.
However, Northern Stars general manager Dianne Lasenby confirmed Cullen’s full-time commitment to the southeast Auckland franchise for the 2019 domestic season, following the 26-year-old’s return to the court after battling knee injury.
“The Northern Stars and Kayla Cullen are fully committed to the 2019 ANZ Premiership season,” she said. “The franchise will support Kayla 100 per cent on and off the court as she strives to returning to playing in Stars colours following a frustrating time on the sideline with injury.”
Although pledging her allegiance, the long-distance pressure on the recently engaged couple’s relationship could mean fewer appearances, if not none, from Cullen in future ANZ Premiership seasons and potentially the Silver Ferns.
Silver Ferns sharpshooter Maria Folau only made herself available for a limited amount of games for the Northern Mystics this season, as she tried to better balance her time in Auckland while based in Sydney with husband and Wallabies star Israel Folau.
However, the 128-test veteran is now permanently relocated in Australia and set to play a Super Netball season with the Adelaide Thunderbirds.
If Cullen was to sign with an Australian franchise, she would need to seek exemption from Netball New Zealand to remain eligible for future Ferns selection.
Shaun John and Kayla Cullen.