Cueto backs England to weather Moody blow
January 19, 2011
Cueto is hoping to break his Test try drought against Wales in Cardiff on February 4 © Getty Images
Winger Mark Cueto is confident England have the strength in depth to bounce back from the loss of captain Lewis Moody.
The England skipper has been ruled out of action for six weeks after picking up a knee injury in Bath's Heineken Cup rout of Aironi on Saturday - ruling him out of the Championship clashes with Wales, Italy and France. Centre Mike Tindall and No.8 Nick Easter have been tipped to take over the captaincy and Cueto has backed both players to fill the void.
"It's a shame to lose Lewis," Cueto told ESPNscrum "He's always been brilliant for England but even more so since he took over the captaincy. He leads by example and the boys love his attitude on and off the pitch. He's done a great job in a short time but it's not a long term injury and I spoke to him this morning and he's hoping it may be four weeks so he could be fit sooner than we think."
But Cueto, who has declared himself fit for the Championship having recovered from a recent calf niggle, does not believe the team will be short of leaders. "That's one of the strengths we have within the team at the minute," he added, having recently taking on the captaincy with his club Sale. "There are lot of leaders and they all take shared responsibility. There is a number of experienced players including Mike and Nick and these guys have been around for years and a similar approach and work ethic to Moodos and either of them could slot into his place."
England kick off their Championship challenge against Wales at the Millennium Stadium - a ground where Cueto has only tasted defeat. But he remains confident of ending that losing run and also breaking his Test try drought. The 31-year-old has failed to cross the whitewash in his last 17 international appearances but is not too concerned.
"My form is as good as it has ever been but obviously I would like to get over the line," said the in-form speedster. "I think it's over a year now since I scored for England [v France, March 15, 2009] but I'm happy with my form and every other aspect of my game is better than it has ever been so I think it is the only angle that you guys have on me!
"If the other parts of my game weren't great then I would start questioning myself. It's easy to start doubting yourself and wonder why it is not happening when you get in that rut because it is not happening. Sometimes you go out and try that bit harder to get over the line but you're never going to do it and in other games where you are not thinking about it things happen. The tries are still there with Sale so I'm not doing too much wrong - the tries will come."
As for his 'unhappy' memories of the Millennium Stadium? "I love playing there but as with a lot of the Home Nations, regardless of form or recent fixtures they seem to raise their game for England," he said. "They could be on a 10-game run without a win but if they beat us they're happy. It's always difficult but it's probably my favourites place to play and it will be even crazier than normal on a Friday night. That's all part of the excitement."
The fact that Martin Johnson's side have three home games in this season's Championship underlines their favouritism - and Cueto believes his side will live up to their billing.
"From a momentum, form and confidence point of view both personally and collectively I think we are in a good position," he said. "The lack of away form in sport is difficult to explain so the years where you have three homes games as opposed to three away games will always bring more confidence.
"And the noise the Twickenham crowd were making in the autumn was something else. I've been involved with England for a few years now and I've not heard anything like the noise we heard then. If we get a similar reception again it will be fantastic."
Mark Cueto is sponsored by Multipower Sportsfood. For sports nutrition tailored to your individual goals, please visit: www.multipoweruk.com
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Graham Jenkins is the Senior Editor of ESPNscrum.
"Gentlemen, if you want to see the World Cup going south yet again, you are going the right way about it," John Taylor looks at the state of European rugby
The Heineken Cup proved once again just why it is the best domestic rugby competition in the world at the weekend and Monday Maul picks out some of the key talking points
The latest Week in Pictures brings you a selection of the best snaps from around the rugby world with scantily clad ladies, O'Driscoll and snow all featuring
"If I miss the first kick of the match, it shouldn't have any impact on the second. They are different entities." Tom Hamilton talks to Northampton Saints' Stephen Myler