Cueto: Ban helped injury
England star Mark Cueto's nine-week ban could have saved his World Cup, the winger revealed on Thursday.
Last Updated: 26/05/11 7:22pm
England star Mark Cueto's nine-week ban could have saved his World Cup, he revealed on Thursday.
The Sale winger was suspended in April after pleading guilty to "making contact with the eye or eye area" of Northampton's Christian Day.
But the 31-year-old has said his enforced absence gave him the opportunity to address a niggling knee-cartilage injury he suffered in training.
Cueto said he would have continued to play through the injury, something his surgeon has since discovered could have put his participation in the World Cup, beginning in September, in serious jeopardy.
"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.
"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."
Cueto has two more weeks of rehabilitation since undergoing the surgery three weeks ago and is now as keen as ever to return to the fray.
"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."
England meet for the first time on Monday before their gruelling pre-World Cup camp begins in July.
And Cueto, who scored a try in the final against South Africa in 2007 only to have it disallowed by the television match official, says England are much stronger this time around.
"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."
"On paper we're in as good a position as we have been for a long time, but we all know that counts for nothing when a World Cup starts. Hopefully it will go well."