Rugby Union: FALL-GUY CUETO WINGS IN TO PROVE A POINT; iRB RUGBY WORLD CUP 2007 FRANCE 80 MINUTES FROM HISTORY WORLD CUP FINAL: ENGLAND V SOUTH AFRICA AT THE STADE DE FRANCE, PARIS, SATURDAY, KICK-OFF 8PM Flyer Relishes Final Chance to Silence Critics

Article excerpt

Byline: ALEX SPINK REPORTING FROM PARIS

MARK CUETO was last night brought in from the World Cup wilderness by England and told he would start in Saturday's final.

Cueto's dream recall follows Josh Lewsey tearing a hamstring in last week's semifinal and coach Brian Ashton deciding to replace him with a specialist wing.

Ashton has opted to keep his midfield combination of Mike Catt and Mat Tait intact rather than bring Dan Hipkiss in at outside centre and move Tait out to left wing.

Those plans could yet be scuppered as Catt, in line to become the oldest player to start a World Cup final, is nursing a groin problem and did not train yesterday.

A final decision on the 36-year-old, who is expected to retire from international rugby after the game, will be left until tomorrow.

Cueto had become a forgotten man in the tournament since being dropped as full-back after England's unconvincing opening win over the United States.

Although he was recalled on the wing for the games against Samoa and Tonga he looked a shadow of the player who had burst on to the scene with eight tries in his first eight Tests.

"The World Cup hasn't gone exactly how I would have liked personally," said Cueto. "Though obviously it couldn't have gone better for the team.

"I feel I've got a point to prove to myself, to my friends and family, so to get an opportunity to do that in a final is a special chance."

It is a big call by Ashton to bring back a player who has been dropped, recalled, injured, omitted and now recalled in the space of seven weeks.

Hipkiss was instrumental in England's win over France, making the break which set up the field position for Jonny Wilkinson's go-ahead penalty five minutes from time.

Ashton admitted it had been a "pretty close call" and that Cueto had earned the nod because he "has played a lot of international rugby in the back three, and we expect a fair old aerial bombardment on Saturday".

The 27-year-old Cumbrian expects to be up against Springbok wing J-P Pietersen, who scored two tries against England in last month's 36-0 pool clash. …