Cullen stays put in NZ for sea­son with Stars

Rotorua Daily Post - - Sport - Net­ball Cheree Kin­n­ear

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.

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