Cueto in line for late call up again at World Cup
Updated: October 03, 2011, 03:27
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AUCKLAND, New Zealand(AP) First Josh Lewsey and now Delon Armitage, England winger Mark Cueto is set to catch a break from a teammate's absence for the second Rugby World Cup running.
Four years after being overlooked for the opening two knockout rounds but earning selection for the final in Paris when Lewsey injured his hamstring, Cueto is likely to benefit from Armitage's one-match ban and play in the quarterfinal against the French on Saturday.
Armitage was suspended Monday for a high tackle on Scotland fullback Chris Paterson at the weekend as England won 16-12 to clinch top spot in Pool B.
Cueto was upset to have missed out on playing the Scots after scoring three tries in the preceding 67-3 win over Romania on his return from two matches out because of a back injury. Before that, he had played 29 straight tests for England.
"To play the way I did and score the hat trick, it was disappointing to find out I wasn't playing last week,'' Cueto said. "The coaches weren't convinced I was 100 percent. They know me pretty well and they thought I was just lacking a little edge in that game. They thought I needed another week's training, get that under my belt and be OK.
"You try and convince them to change their minds and whatever else, but the decision was made. It was something I had to deal with. I spat my dummy out on the day I was told, but it is a squad effort. I won't sit here and lie and say I wasn't disappointed. I was hugely disappointed.''
Armitage was one of the most dangerous players at Eden Park on Saturday as England rallied from a 12-3 deficit and was expected to retain his left wing spot, especially considering Cueto had only scored one try in his 25 previous tests before the Romania match.
"It's a shame to lose Delon as he has played well, but these things happen and we have some quality wings in Mark Cueto and Matt Banahan to chose from,'' England manager Martin Johnson said.
Fortune has smiled on Cueto before.
The 31-year-old winger pleaded guilty to making contact with the eye or eye area of Northampton lock Christian Day while playing for Sale in an English Premiership game on April 2.
The Rugby Football Union judiciary decided Cueto deserved a mid-range penalty of 18 weeks, which would have ruled him out of the World Cup, but halved the sanction for what it called his "compelling mitigation.''
Cueto's luck ebbed and flowed at the 2007 World Cup, playing all the pool matches but missing the quarterfinal against Australia and the semifinal versus France because of a hamstring strain - before a similar injury to Lewsey opened up a berth for the Stade de France final.
Cueto's disallowed try was the defining moment of the final as the Springboks won 15-6 to claim their second World Cup, a tournament he describes as like no other.
"It is such a crazy competition. You can't compare it to anything else,'' Cueto said. "One minute you are at the bottom of the pile and suicidal, for want of a better phrase, and the next minute you are playing in a World Cup final and top of the pile.''