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Widnes chairman heaps praise on Cullen.

Byline: JOHN LAWLESS

WIDNES chairman Steve O''Connor has praised head coach Paul Cullen after he steered the Vikings to Northern Rail Cup glory on Sunday.

The Vikings downed Championship hotshots Barrow Raiders 34-18 in the final at Blackpool with several of the players Cullen has brought in on loan playing a crucial role.

O''Connor said: He''s definitely instilled some discipline.

"They know where they stand with him and he doesn''t really carry passengers.

"It''s taken him a little bit of time to work out how he can best set up his coaching regime and in the last five or six games we''ve seen some great performances."

Cullen took over from caretaker boss John Stankevitch after previous head coach Steve McCormack was sacked earlier this season.

After a sticky start, the former Warrington boss radically changed his squad''s training schedule and is now beginning to reap the rewards from the changes he has made.

O''Connor added: We''ve had to have a couple of bad days to recognise the good days and had a season of ups and downs.

We''ve had some poor performances at Batley, Whitehaven and Leigh.

"But I think we showed in the semi-final and final that this is a squad of players and a team that genuinely wants to go places.

O'Connor also revealed that although his team has now met the playing criteria to apply for a Super League licence by winning the Northern Rail Cup, there will be no let up over the next two seasons.

We''ve ticked a box but ultimately there are another four of those boxes to tick. If we''re good enough we can protect our position by stopping other clubs getting there.

We''ll now be working tirelessly to ensure we get into the Grand Final.

"We want another great day out.

CAPTION(S):

BIG WIN: Skipper Mark Smith lifts the Northern Rail Cup
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 14, 2009
Words:311
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