England skipper Chris Robshaw admits the Premiership will be a sadder place without Sale Sharks’ Mark Cueto next season.
Cueto has now hung up his boots after Sale’s final match of the season away at Exeter Chiefs on Saturday.
He didn’t manage to go out by crossing the whitewash but Cueto had the perfect send-off in front of the Sale faithful with a try against Newcastle Falcons at the AJ Bell Stadium seven days earlier.
That took his tally to 90 and reinforced his status as the competition’s all-time top scorer ahead of Tom Varndell.
And Robshaw knows the game has lost one of its finest servants.
“It is always sad when you see guys like that retire. I actually made my England debut with Cuets so I have got to know him a little bit,” Robshaw said.
“It will be a loss for the game to see a guy like that retire. He is the all-time Premiership record try scorer and he went over in his last ever home game – he seems to keep on picking them up!
“He is also an extremely tough guy to play against, a great competitor and he has had a pretty good career. I’m sure he will be happy to leave on his own terms.”
Despite racking up 55 England caps, Cueto failed to get his hands on the World Cup trophy in 2003 as he didn’t make his debut until the following year.
And while the current crop of Red Rose stars missed out on this year’s Six Nations title to Ireland on points difference, it was still an encouraging tournament for the Red Rose who look forward to a home World Cup later this year.
Stuart Lancaster’s men racked up a stunning 157 points in five games – the highest of any of the teams – and with that in mind, 28-year-old Robshaw believes the entire squad is well placed for taking on the world’s best.
“I can’t wait, it is very exciting. We are almost into camp now and once we are there it will be extremely intense and extremely challenging but it’s a place you want to be,” he added.
“It is something we have been looking forward to for a long time and it has been spoken about for a long time.
“We are progressing and we have done a lot recently. You look at the way our attack has taken shape in the last Six Nations campaign and I think that was the biggest thing we really had to add to our boat.
“I’m really looking forward to it, when everyone is back fit as well. People say to be successful in the World Cup you have to have a squad.
“It’s not so much about the XV, it’s about the 30 there and – if injuries happen – the other guys coming in from the training squad who are really going to push on and excel.”