Cueto: It's Time I Was a Winner in Wales; England Winger on a Mission as He Looks to End His Try Famine
Byline: Ian Stafford
MARK CUETO has two wrongs to put right as he goes into the 2011 Six Nations -- the fact that he has never won for England at the Millennium Stadium and the fact that it is almost two years since the winger's last international try.
Yet despite these flaws on his CV, he will be smiling as he steps on to the Cardiff turf on Friday night when England's campaign kicks off against a Wales team baying for blood amid the wall of noise from the massed ranks of passionate home supporters.
The Sale Sharks captain is confident, more than happy with his lot, and eager to get going against the Welsh.
'Despite my three defeats there, I'd still say the Millennium Stadium is my favourite venue in the world to play rugby,' admits the 31-year-old, a veteran of England's all-singing and dancing back three that also features the new kids on the block, Ben Foden and Chris Ashton.
'There's not a louder crowd in the world, they are closer to the pitch than in most other venues, and I would imagine playing on a Friday night will further intensify what is always a fantastic atmosphere.
'Will I be intimidated by this? It's why you play the game, isn't it? It's why you go through all the knocks, all the injuries and all the lows. If you're intimidated by the prospect of Friday night in Cardiff, then you shouldn't be playing the game.
'I love it all, even the singing before the game begins. And I'd love it even more if, by the end, the only singing you can hear will be from the English fans inside the stadium.'
It is an understandable wish for many reasons. Any win, after all, will be an international first at the Millennium for the man with 45 caps to Fact his name.
'On all three previous occasions when we've lost it's been tight,' he continues.
'It will always be tight in Cardiff and I don't expect anything different on Friday.
'As a man who likes attacking rugby I can, of course, appreciate the threat that the Welsh backs pose with the likes of Shane Williams, James Hook, Lee Byrne and Mike Phillips in their ranks.
'It's a game that may well be decided by a single flash of brilliance from someone like Shane, so we must ensure we remain fully focused from start to finish, and that we put in an 80-minute performance. We managed this against Australia in Sydney last summer, and again in November at Twickenham, and we'll have to do it again to beat Wales.
'When we've failed to do so -- even for 10 minutes against New Zealand, and against Samoa when a job done could have been a hammering if we'd taken our chances -- we've been punished. …