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Cueto sees plus side of ban


Mark Cueto

Mark Cueto

Mark Cueto

England winger Mark Cueto has revealed his nine-week suspension could potentially have saved his World Cup.

Cueto was issued with the ban in April after pleading guilty to "making contact with the eye or eye area" of Northampton's Christian Day. While he hints at his anguish at what happened, Cueto has at least drawn encouragement from the opportunity his enforced absence gave him to address a niggling knee cartilage injury sustained in training.

"The fact the suspension may have helped me for the World Cup has been the positive view I've taken on what's been a poor few weeks," he said. "The injury was manageable, I could train and play, but the surgeon was very happy post-op that we'd made the decision to do it."

Cueto added: "He was pretty certain that with the intensity of the World Cup camp and warm-up games, it could have become a bigger problem further down the line. Given that I had that window of extra time because of the ban, it was a good decision to have the operation.

"If I hadn't had it, I'd have carried on until the end of the season at least, as long as it didn't get worse. And then at the end of the season, I don't know if I'd have been happy to do it so close to the World Cup camp."

Having gone under the knife three weeks ago, Cueto has two more weeks of rehabilitation left and expects to be firing on all cylinders by mid June. England meet for the first time on Monday before the gruelling pre-World Cup camp begins in earnest in July and Cueto finds himself in the rare position of looking forward to training.

"It means I've had five weeks off this summer, which is the longest break I've had in over 10 years," he said. "I'm actually keen to get back to training. Every year you get such little time off. Before you know it you're back in for pre-season training and you're almost not hungry because you haven't had enough time off.

"But now I'm really keen to get back involved. I had the operation, went on holiday and have been back a week."

Cueto, who famously had a try disallowed by the television match official when England lost the 2007 World Cup final to South Africa, believes the stage is set for Martin Johnson's side to scale similar heights in New Zealand this autumn.

"We're in a better position now than we were before the last World Cup," he said. "In itself that suggests that hopefully we can get to the final once again. We're confident of where we're at. We've had a great 12 months. Although we missed out on a Grand Slam this year, we won our first Six Nations for eight years."

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