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Cueto looks forward to new season
1:11pm Wednesday 18th July 2012 in Sport
WINGER Mark Cueto might be in the twilight of his rugby career but he insists the buzz around Sale this season has got him feeling young again.
Having been axed from international duty after the debacle that was the 2011 World Cup and revealing this week that he did not expect to play for England again, Cueto’s day-to-day life now revolves solely around the Sharks.
However, far from bemoaning his plight Cueto insists the atmosphere around the Manchester outfit is infectious with the 2012/13 season to be played in a brand-new arena – the Salford City Stadium.
Having first turned out for the Sharks in 2001, Cueto knows only too well the limitations their old home Edgeley Park offered up.
And with a new stadium, and a team on the rise – Sale’s sixth-place finish last term guaranteed Heineken Cup rugby would return to the North West – Cueto insists he can’t wait for the season to get up and running.
The 32-year-old winger could be in action as early as this Friday in the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Series and he said: “It’s really exciting heading into the new season because of the new stadium and the endless possibilities it brings in terms of development and expansion.
“But there are also the improvements at the club that the public don’t see so much like the staff and the training facilities – everything has been taken to a new level.
“It’s brilliant for me to help encourage my enthusiasm for the game but also as a player who has been involved with the club for so long to see the progress is fantastic. It’s probably one of the most exciting times in the last ten years of the club’s history.
“We haven’t sat down as a team and set a target but obviously we’ve got to match a top six finish like we did last year and we want to give a good account of ourselves in the Heineken Cup.
“We have some great teams to bring to Manchester – but at the same time with the changes and the signings we’ve made then top four could be an option but it’s almost a case of feeling your way through the season and just seeing where you’re at come January, February and resetting goals from there.”
If he makes the cut Cueto will head back to back to Edgeley Park this Friday in the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Series, which will see Sale take on London Welsh, Northampton Saints and Leicester Tigers at the regional qualifying round.
But whether he is part of the show or not, Cueto insists this weekend will be a vital step in the Sharks’ journey towards a top-four Aviva Premiership finish this season.
“We tend to use it more for the younger guys at the academy, give them an opportunity to play in a competition like that and play against quality teams but it’s always exciting especially with it being at Edgeley,” he added.
“I like the JP Morgan Sevens, it’s the perfect opportunity for the boys to get involved with the experience of playing on a Premiership pitch in a Premiership stadium – it’s a good experience.”
To buy tickets for the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Series visit: www.jpmorgan7s.com or call 08448 472 492.