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Try king Cueto deserves every plaudit as he brings curtain down on dazzling career

07 May | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Try king Cueto deserves every plaudit as he brings curtain down on dazzling career

Mark Cueto content to call it quits - save for the 'one that got away' in 2007 World Cup final.

MARK CUETO was watching television at home the other evening when he heard his wife shriek in another room.

Unbeknown to him Suzie was on YouTube checking out the 2007 World Cup final. You know, the England-South Africa game in which her husband scored the try that never was.

“She came steaming into the living room, absolutely raging,” Cueto reveals. “She yelled, ‘I just can’t believe it wasn’t given. How was it not’?”

Cueto laughs as he tells the story – “it’s only taken eight years for the penny to drop!” – but behind the smile he shares his wife’s frustration at the one that got away, courtesy of the video ref ruling that his left leg had brushed the touchline.

He did not get to become the English Premiership’s all-time leading try scorer (with 89) and to rank eighth on England’s all-time list (with 20) by recognising a lost cause.

On Saturday, at the AJ Bell Stadium, the 35-year-old plays his final home game for Sale Sharks. Newcastle are the opposition, and Cueto has so many family and friends coming that he has taken three tables at the post-match awards dinner.

He insists his prime concern is that Sale win the game and that he has no second thoughts about hanging up his boots, 14 years on from scoring on his debut against Bristol in 2001.

“The more you get asked about it, the more you think about it and the more you worry about it,” he says when pushed. “But I keep going back to the fact it’s completely my decision.

“To be still playing in my position, on the wing, in the Premiership at 35, I’m secretly quite chuffed with that.”

Cueto, like fellow England winger Ugo Monye at Harlequins, is a throwback to rugby’s amateur era. A one-club man who put loyalty before, potentially, bigger money and better opportunities elsewhere.

Monye, who also bows out next week, is cut from the same cloth; a 32-year-old who has played 165 Premiership games for Quins since his debut in the 2002-03 season, scoring 50 tries along the way. 

His inspiration, he says, is Tony Adams, who committed his entire playing career to the Arsenal football club so beloved of Monye.

Being a Manchester United fan, Cueto would doubtless point to the similar example of Ryan Giggs. Whoever his inspiration, Sale are just grateful he chose them with whom to spend his adult life.

This weekend sees another significant achievement in English rugby’s top flight, with Wasps having sold out the 32,000-capacity Ricoh Arena for their first Midlands derby against Leicester.

But Cueto, for his 15 years at the very top of the English game, deserves star billing. We may well not see his like again.