‘Biggest club competition in the world’: Sale Shark’s Mark Cueto aiming to use Heineken Cup to build momentum

By James Scott

Sale Sharks stalwart Mark Cueto insisted Aviva Premiership survival is the focus, ahead of their Heineken Cup clash with Montpellier at Salford City Stadium.

Steve Diamond’s men will have to wait until mid-February to improve their league position at the foot of the table, with two European fixtures to negotiate.

Sale crashed out of the Heineken Cup after back-to-back defeats to star-studded Toulon, and the Sharks are itching to focus on league duties.

Despite Cueto, Sale’s longest serving player, admitting the Aviva Premiership is their bread and butter, the former England winger is determined to build momentum in the Heineken Cup.

“Everything now is about securing being in the Premiership next season and we can use this period, in a less pressured environment to try and build some confidence,” said Cueto.

“If we’re being honest, we’d rather keep going with the Premiership – that is where our priorities lie, with the position we’re in.

“But then at the same time, it’s the Heineken Cup – it’s the biggest club competition in the world and it’s the first time the club have been in it for a long time.

“A lot of the players here this season are the same group of players that worked so hard last season to qualify us for the Heineken Cup.”

Sale sit five points adrift of London Irish at the foot of the Aviva Premiership, after the Exiles ended a run of six defeats with a shock win at Gloucester.

Cueto, who will play at centre alongside Mark Jennings against Montpellier, argued the Sharks must concentrate on their own performances to get out of trouble.

“It’s all about us – we can’t start relying on other teams on doing us a favour,” said Cueto. “We’ve got to do ourselves a favour and start picking up some wins.”

“The tables can turn really quickly and we were unlucky not to come away with a bonus point win against Worcester.

“It was a relatively convincing win and – it might sound funny – we’re bottom of the table and five points adrift, but we’re still a good team.

“If you get two good wins and you’re totally out of trouble, so on the hand, it’s terrible the position we’re in, but then at the same time, we’re well aware of concentrating on ourselves and getting it right then we’ll soon get out of trouble.

Dave Seymour will return as captain for the third and final Heineken Cup game at Salford City Stadium, while Josh Beaumont will make his debut at number eight.

Line-up: 15 Cameron Shepherd 14 Tom Brady 13 Mark Cueto 12 Mark Jennings 11 Charlie Amesbury 10 Danny Cipriani 9 Will Cliff 1 Aston Croall 2 Marc Jones 3 Vadim Cobilas 4 Richie Gray 5 Tom Holmes 6 James Doyle 7 David Seymour (C) 8 Josh Beaumont

Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse 17 Ross Harrison 18 Tony Buckley 19 Kearnan Myall 20 Tommy Taylor 21 Nathan Fowles 22 Rob Miller 23 Jordan Davies

Picture courtesy of Steve_C, with thanks

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