Slam trumps landmarks for Cueto
Mark Cueto will win his 50th England cap on Saturday - but he really wants the Grand Slam.
Last Updated: 15/03/11 6:46pm
Mark Cueto will be proud to earn his 50th cap in Dublin on Saturday - but what he really wants is an England win to complete the Grand Slam.
The Sale wing feels his international career, which dates back to 2004 and includes a Test appearance for the Lions against New Zealand, will be incomplete without any silverware.
England's points difference advantage over Wales means they could be crowned RBS 6 Nations champions even if they lose to Ireland this weekend.
But Cueto, who at 31 is the old man of England's exciting back three, would not settle for that, particularly at this stage of his career.
After coming so close in the 2007 Rugby World Cup final, and having experienced some dark times with England, Cueto views the opportunity to seal a Grand Slam on Irish soil as priceless.
"You play for 10 years in this game and you can count on one hand the number of times you get something tangible out of the game," he said.
"I am in my seventh year with England and I have never won anything. I am not getting any younger and it is massive opportunity this weekend on a personal level.
"We are going into probably one of the biggest games an England team have had since that 2007 World Cup final.
"I massively appreciate playing for England. There are plenty of players who have never done it and it is an achievement in itself. I am respectful of that.
"To win my 50th cap in Dublin will definitely be something special, it is something you always dream about - but you want to be successful, you want to win things."
The last time England won the Grand Slam was in 2003, when they sealed it in emphatic fashion with a 42-6 victory over Ireland at the old Lansdowne Road.
Jonny Wilkinson, Mike Tindall and Steve Thompson all played that day and are still members of the squad, while Martin Johnson and Graham Rowntree are now on the coaching staff.
"These are exciting times. It is only in the last eight months we have been able to show what we can do and there is more to come from this team," Cueto said.
"We are not a bunch of muppets. We know there is a Grand Slam there to be won. It's not like we don't talk about it.
"But as a group we know if we look after the here and now the bigger bonus will fall into place. That is something we have done since the start of the Six Nations.
"We have a great mix. We have a lot of guys who are experienced and have experienced big games. You can't buy that.
"We also have young guys like Chris Ashton and Ben Foden, who are so high on life and confident that they don't get caught up in the occasion. They know what they can do and have proven it."