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Mark Orlovac

Cueto gets the nod (47)

Paris – Luckily, I hadn’t finished my "England call on Hipkiss" feature for today.

The fact that I had even started thinking about writing it shows that for the umpteenth time over the last few weeks, I have been pretty presumptuous about this England team.

It was widely assumed that Dan Hipkiss, the strong-running Leicester outside centre, would be named in the side for Saturday’s World Cup final against South Africa following the cruel injury to wing Josh Lewsey.

The 25-year-old had impressed after coming on as Lewsey’s replacement in the semi-final against France, with first-choice number 13 Mathew Tait looking comfortable despite being moved out wide.

The selection of Hipkiss was a formality, wasn't it?

Erm....no. And it seems experience was the key.

Hipkiss made his England debut this summer and his appearance off the bench just before half-time last Saturday was only his fifth cap. Maybe giving Hipkiss his first World Cup start in the biggest game of all was just too much of a gamble.

Head coach Brian Ashton may have also been loath to tinker with a midfield that has served him well in the games against Australia and France.

With Hipkiss passed over, it is Sale's Mark Cueto that comes into a team trying to become the first side in history to retain the World Cup.

He has a fine try-scoring record at international level with 13 tries from 23 games and Ashton obviously believes that he can handle the aerial bombardment that is sure to come his way at the Stade de France.

“The experience of someone who has played a lot of international rugby in that position is quite important,” said Ashton.

The 27-year-old’s selection is a massive boost for a player who has suffered a torrid 12 months with injury.

Injuries to his calf, abductor and ankle severely wrecked his campaign and last season he only made 13 appearances for his club.

Mark Cueto

Cueto also missed England’s summer tour to South Africa and all but one of this year’s Six Nations matches. To sum up his luck, he was set to play in the warm-up match against Wales in August but pulled his groin in the warm-up.

With this many injuries it is hardly surprising that he has been unable to hit top form so far this year, although you could say being asked to play out of position at full-back has not helped his cause.

After unconvincingly wearing the number 15 shirt in the Six Nations game against Wales, against France in the summer warm-up Test in Marseille and in the World Cup opener against the USA, Cueto was moved to his natural wing position for the wins over Samoa and Tonga.

Cueto suffered a hamstring strain in that final pool match with Tonga and although he has not made the match-day 22 since, he believes he is ready for the big day ahead.

“For the past two weeks I've been training and keeping myself in good shape and trying to keep my mind focused, waiting for an opportunity to come around,” he said.

And it seemed quite ironic that at England’s team announcement, Hipkiss came into the room to be interviewed just a matter of feet away from the throng of journalists gathered around Cueto.

To Hipkiss’ credit, the Leicester man put on a brave face and was keen to stress how he was determined to help the team this weekend.

"I have put it to one side. It's all about the team putting in a performance on Saturday," he said. "Mark is a great player and I have no doubt that he will do a great job."

It sort of sums up the team unity this squad has developed over the last few weeks.

As for the press conference itself, it seemed that the world’s media had descended on England’s team hotel to hear Ashton announce his starting XV – you would think there was a World Cup final coming up.

With a certain Jonny Wilkinson on the top table it was always going to be thus and two banks of television crews and a host of photographers were trained on the Newcastle fly-half as he took to his seat.

After the main event, a host of players came into the media room and were in good humour as they conducted their interviews - a jovial Matt Stevens was seen pulling down Lewis Moody's trousers as he was speaking to a group of journalists.

And for Cueto in particular, it was certainly a day to be smiling.

Mark Orlovac is a BBC Sport journalist based in London. He will be based in Paris for the knockout stages of the Rugby World Cup.


Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 08:58 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Tom Bridges wrote:

I think most England rugby fans were wishing for the inclusion of Hipkiss at 13, with tait on the wing as a potentially exciting prospect, but the selection of Cueto as a genuine winger, is a realistic and sensible decision.
The man has a good try count for his country, and as written above, the midfield has performed very well against Australia and France. In these games, Hipkiss has made a good effect off the bench, with Tait moving to the wing. Depending on how well Cueto performs,either himself or Tait will be substituted for Hipkiss. We have a good chance of winning, but the lineout and half back partnership are crucial, oh and one more thing, Habana is reasonable fast as well!

  • 2.
  • At 09:33 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • craigbaker wrote:


I personally can't wait for saturday, and am quitely confident we can put in a good performance against SA. Fair play to Cueto, he's had a terrible run of luck with injuries and should be able to adapt to (hopefully) a highball/kick for territory style of game.

I think we have a decent chance based on 3 factors:
1) Based on current form, we're clearly the underdogs and have nothing to lose.
2) SA haven't been properly tested yet, and when they've played against reasonable teams (i.e. Fiji) looked shaky. In fact, if the Argentinians hadn't given away 3 tries, we could have been playing them in the final instead.
3) The 36-0 thrashing will be seared into the England team, and will give them even more incentive (if a WC final wasn't enough!) to go out there and do the business.

COME ON ENGLAND!

  • 3.
  • At 11:13 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Ben E wrote:

I love the banter - pulling down Moody's trousers during the interview! Excellent to see that our boys are in good humour

  • 4.
  • At 11:21 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Tooks wrote:

Im sceptical but wont dare knock Ashton's decision as he has proved so many wrong

  • 5.
  • At 12:10 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Mark Deane wrote:

ill just state the obvious here- he knows them better than we do. does anyone else think ashton could be the same person as mystic meg?

  • 6.
  • At 12:22 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Tel wrote:

Hipkiss Tait Farrell (bench) would no doubt top a selection poll and it is doubtful if Cueto would have even been in the mix. The way things have been going he's bound to prove us all wrong and I for one will be prepared to hold my hand up. I dont think luck has played a great part in the team revival but if there is any going on Saturday then Ashton deserves the lions share.

  • 7.
  • At 01:35 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Byrhtwold wrote:

The choice was never between Hipkiss and Cueto. To anyone who really understands international rugby, the choice was really between Cueto and Abendanon.

Tait is a fine player, but lacks the skillset necessary to start a test-match on the wing, particularly against this Springbok team.

At the very least, a test winger needs to be safe under the high ball, be able to kick accurately and consistently, and to have a good sense of defensive positioning both against his opposing number, and against an aerial bombardment, in addition to the pace required to shackle his opponent. Clinical finishing is also a must-have. Cueto has all of these attributes, as do Robinson and Sackey.

All Tait has shown himself to possess of the above skills is pace, and the ability to tackle solidly. With the Springboks bound to mount an aerial bombardment on any perceived weak link, to select an outside centre at wing this weekend would be suicide.

The choice of Cueto over Abendanon was a straight experience-over-form call - combined with the fact that Robinson is in scorching form at fullback, and is more reliable defensively.

Hipkiss has no place in this decision. Had he started, it would not have been a vote of confidence in him, but in Tait, who lacks the necessary skills and experience to start at wing, although his pace allows him to cover late in a game.

Or do you feel that Hipkiss should have been picked at 13 ahead of Tait? Now that's a question worth asking. Power and handling vs pace and (slightly less limited) experience...

I feel this is the conservative choice but probably the right one.. I didn't relish the prospect of tait playing out of position on the wing. Cueto better step up and not screw up though!! It will be interesting to see hipkiss coming off the bench again in the last quarter to break the line! cmmmmmon england!

  • 9.
  • At 02:34 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • James Thompson wrote:

Probably not, but Hipkiss is good to have on the bench. What has been good to see is that he's been given a degree of game time off the bench so as to prepare him for the international scene. Almost regardless of the result on saturday, i'd like to see him make some starts in the 6N, and see where we progress from there.

  • 10.
  • At 04:16 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • rob c wrote:

In response to the post no.7 Byrhtwold "to anyone who really understands international rugby" (patronising!) I agree with your theory but your analysis of Tait, Cueto etc is beyond me...In the tournament so far:

1. Cueto has had no confidence in his ability to beat people (always cutting in which to "anyone who understands rugby" is the classic sign of a winger short on confidence/pace etc)
2. Cueto has been anything but solid in defence, especially with his poor tackilng
3. Cueto has kicked woefully and too often!
3. Tait is neither powerful or defensivley strong-he's improved 100 per cent in these areas but his strength is his passing and creative running but due to a lack of strength he hardly breaks tackles.

So strange as it appears, I agree with the principles behind the selection of Cueto but Brythwold,for someone who "understands international rugby" you need to comment a player's current form and Mark Cueto's is woeful(Let's hope he can have a renaissance as Gommersall has this tournament-who would have thought he would have been our first player on the team sheet this tournament? I know he didn't-he's said he's pinching himself al the time)

So Cueto who talks about "showing what he can do" better take his chance and start beating people-I sincerely hope he does and that we become the first ever team to defend the cup!

  • 11.
  • At 04:19 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Gary Thompson wrote:

If Cueto will pass the ball this time against SA then we have a chance, there were 2 tries going begging last time and a possible 3rd if cueto had only shipped the ball instedof going for the line. Hope he as grown smarter and will use his team mates out wide.

  • 12.
  • At 04:31 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Gary Thompson wrote:

If Cueto will pass the ball this time against SA then we have a chance, there were 2 tries going begging last time and a possible 3rd if cueto had only shipped the ball instedof going for the line. Hope he as grown smarter and will use his team mates out wide.

  • 13.
  • At 04:32 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Gary Thompson wrote:

I hope Sackey does not hang off his winger like he did in the French game or he will be left for dead

  • 14.
  • At 04:48 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Gary Thompson wrote:

England to win? – I am English and I really hope England win, but, and there is a big BUT this will give the clubs a green card to carry on the way they have since the game in England went professional. Get the money and stuff the National Team.
Good luck to the lads out there in the final you all deserve it, as all players do they have given 110% and have clawed their way through all the foreign players, BUT, lets not forget the passed 4 years of being thrashed by every nation on earth. The problem with English rugby is that there are not enough English men being given places in the premier divisions, as we can see after the world cup there will be another flood of southern hemisphere ”has beans” occupying the places that should be filled with English players.

  • 15.
  • At 05:31 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Rodrigo wrote:

Come on England! Like in 2003!

  • 16.
  • At 06:21 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Chris Hall wrote:

I sort of agree with Gary (post #14) but look at it this way: both France and New Zealand have been preparing for this world cup for the last 4 years. Plans were put in place after 2003 to build a squad capable of winning the trophy. This extended down into their respective league structures, unlike in the English game, but look where it has got them. I will say that supporting England over the last four years has been torment however the Webb Ellis trophy at the end of it would be a rather nice outcome!! Hopefully, English rugby will move forward following this world cup but i'd still settle for a few dodgy results if we end up winning it for the third time in a row in 2011.

  • 17.
  • At 06:46 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • tim skelton wrote:

He may not be universally popular but if we have to fight off a bok onslaught I'd like to have Faz available.......what the hell is Toby Flood doing there!

  • 18.
  • At 07:56 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Desert Shamal wrote:

I was hoping for, and pretty certain that Hipkiss would be in and Tait out on the wing. The selection of Cueto was a suprise for me, even as a Sale fan. I read Byrhtwold's comment above though, and can't fault his reasoning. Excellent post Mr B and thanks for putting my mind straight. Come on England.....

  • 19.
  • At 07:57 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Bluesland wrote:

Does it matter? England don't use their three quarters in any case!

Cueto is reasonably sound defensively.
Why not play Cueto and Hipkiss - leaving out Tait. It might reduce creativity (which England appear not to hold in high regard)but it would make the backs bigger and more powerful.

  • 20.
  • At 09:07 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • One legged Ed wrote:

I'm with Mark (#5) - Brian Ashton is the man in charge, and is best placed to make the call. What credentials do the rest of us to offer?

As a part time rugby ref (when both legs work) I often ask those with ill informed opinions to express them on the field, with a whistle round their neck. It soon goes quiet on the touch line...

  • 21.
  • At 09:14 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Lincoln Dave wrote:

Does it matter who is picked where?
The way things have gone for Ashton in the last 2 or 3 games, this man could fall into a barrell of sh*t and climb out smelling of roses.
Lets hope our luck holds for 1 last effort!!

  • 22.
  • At 09:17 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Tel wrote:

Rob c has countered Byrhtwold's "expert " analysis with aplomb and I have nothing to add to his comments even though we dont ' understand international rugby'. If B doesn't appreciate form is a major factor (and Cueto left his form at Sale) then his understanding gives cause for doubt. I hope Cueto has a blinder along with the other in form 14.

I think BA has got it right.Mike Ford, defence coach no doubt has a big input in this.Hipkiss,off the bench, Catty off after 60,Possibly Cueto off after 65 Tait out to wing and Flood off the bench.(would have liked to have seen Faz running lines/ offloading/setting up field position against Butch James though in the last 15 mins.but Flood offers faster strike power if we need it at this stage.
Forward replacements seem right again.
BA always was a crafty and ferocious competitor himself, when I played against him back amateur days in Lancashire.


  • 24.
  • At 09:22 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Tel wrote:

Rob c has countered Byrhtwold's "expert " analysis with aplomb and I have nothing to add to his comments even though we dont ' understand international rugby'. If B doesn't appreciate form is a major factor (and Cueto left his form at Sale) then his understanding gives cause for doubt. I hope Cueto has a blinder along with the other in form 14.

  • 25.
  • At 09:25 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • CBmajor wrote:

Byrhtwold: As much as you claim to "understand international rugby" you don't seem to realise that Abendanon was never in the running to feature himself. Ashton has shown that he has far more nouse than to throw in someone who has not been with the squad over the past two months, building the terrific bond that has got us this far. Come on boys... bring it home.

  • 26.
  • At 09:38 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • HongJonKong wrote:

I guess the pundits acheived their objective as it looks like AF does not even make the bench ....a terrible shame .

  • 27.
  • At 09:43 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Mike1526 wrote:

Who can argue with Brian Ashton. No-one in the land gave England a snowball in Hells chance, and what happens! Dad's Army proved that experience counts, that having been in the trenches, they could beat anyone. And, they'll win on Saturday.

  • 28.
  • At 10:05 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • James wrote:

The reason that Andy Farrell isn't on the bench is that England need someone there who can come on and play at stand off and take the goal kicks if anything happens to Wilkinson so logically, following the debacle of the first South African game, the choice is between Flood and Barkley. Given that that player needs to cover inside centre as well it seems logical to have Flood there because he and Wilkinson work together much better than Barkley and Wilkinson have. I have nothing against Andy Farrell but his goal kicking experience was long time ago and, admirable though it was, league kickers seldom have to take on the forty to fifty metre game breakers, either from the ground or from the hand, that may be required on Saturday.
The arguments for Hipkiss are all valid, but it is worth considering that Tait has been up against some of the best centres in the world over the last couple of games and has more than held his own. Hipkiss could also make a big difference coming on as an impact sub, as he did against France.
The bottom line is that Brian Ashton has got it right over the last few weeks, he sees the players in training and he knows what he is trying to achieve so it's time to give him some credit and respect his decision.

  • 29.
  • At 10:06 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • graham wrote:

I seemed to be the only one arguing for cueto this week. I did this purely on the basis that this RWC has proved that in high pressure games you must have players in their specialist positions.Under pressure they have to rely on their experience and instinct both for attacking abilities and defensive duties.Do not play centres out of position on the wing or at fullback as shown by France and NZ.This is done by coaches under pressure being too defensive or trying to be clever, it may look good in theory,on the training ground or in easy games butnot under high pressure in the RWC.
its also a symptom of panic to counter a threat like habana,look at Underwood probably our most brilliant instictive winger,(although he usually mucked up when he had to much time to think)calling for tate onthe wing.
You cant signall to SA youre scared of habana.Imagine underwoods reaction if hed been left on the bench for a centre.
Finally most wingers that have played a number of internationals will be better defensively than a centre bi instinctivel knowing when to comit to the tackle,shadow their opposite number or step in and tackle the inside man

  • 30.
  • At 10:48 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • JonS wrote:

Whilst, like quite a few others, I was hoping for Hipkiss in the midfield with Tait shipping out to the wing I do completely understand why Ashton has made this decision.

Cueto is a proven international class wing (not full back!) and in this game you need proven ability not potential. Tait has been excellent in the centre, and Hipkiss has done everything right when coming off of the bench and will undoubtedly have a significant role to play on Saturday night.

Good luck boys, can't wait! Just a shame I've got to be at work for 8am Sunday morning...

  • 31.
  • At 10:49 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Cock of the North wrote:

"If you prod a bear with a stick long enough it will rip your head off" (Times Yesterday).
England will win by 11 points get your bets on currently 18/1 and we will win the treble in 2011. God Bless Englishmen everywhere.

Ashton for PM send dismal Brown back to Scotland.. Give Tom and Ben his tickets.

  • 32.
  • At 10:56 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Keith wrote:

Stop it Bluesland! (#19). It's taking note of the creative lobby that cost us the final in 1991. If stuffing the ball up the jumper wins the game then so be it. I'd be happy! Let's hope that Tait gets the space to use his speed! I like your selection but there's strength on the bench. Bring it on. Enjoy.

  • 33.
  • At 11:38 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • armchairstrategist wrote:

Cueto is a good choice - the logical one but I still think that Ashton should bring on Hipkiss around the 60 minute mark. He will give England another dimension with his ability to create space out of nothing. They will need to give him some time to settle and the usual 10 minutes isn't enough for that.

  • 34.
  • At 12:07 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Strider wrote:

I feel extremely sorry for Farrell, but no doubt he is feeling much worse. I enjoy both rugby codes but have watched club rugby league over many years. I am not a Wigan supporter but I have never seen a braver player than Farrell and he also had the ability through leadership and skill to turn tight games. I think his year out is what really did for him as far as this World Cup is concerned. He had a lot of ground to make up and although his cameo performance against Tonga was enough to get him a starting place against Australia his wretched luck with injuries returned to haunt him. I feel if he had started against Australia we would be in exactly the same position - playing South Africa in the final and I for one would be more confident of victory. I think that Ashton probably feels the same way but has taken the soft option (given the vitriol against Farrell) and who can blame him. That said I shall be 100% behind the team on Saturday

  • 35.
  • At 01:34 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Frank Murray wrote:

Why was Matt Stevens pulling Lewis Moody's trousers down, was that a wise move in the glare of the world's media.

I like to stroll around without my trousers on but I like to do it at home, in private where I can also wear my favourite Bath replica top in the shower.

Come on Bath, Come on England!!

Rgds

Frank

  • 36.
  • At 02:10 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Bruce wrote:

What should be considered, is Hipkiss coming on in place of Catt for a while. If this works well continue with it, if not then bring Flood on and move Tait to wing. Particularly if England trail and need to go onto the attack.

  • 37.
  • At 02:35 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Trev wrote:

I think England will opperate a drift defense and use the pace of Tait to help cover the pace of the SA wing men and hope to double up on them defensivly. To counter the SA backline - who are ALL flyers, we need pace, pace and more pace. I think Ashton has picked the 4 fastest players he has available at full back, wings and outside centre. Added to that they are all 4 are playing in positions they are comfortable with.

It will be a great tatical battle.

  • 38.
  • At 03:06 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Emily wrote:

To prepare Rugby Final,it can find another supporting team,imitating the playing styles of South African Team, and have a half-sized match with England Rugby Team before the real final.
Besides,watch the video of the match played between South African Team with England or other teams,after some analysis assisted by the sport expert and coaches,which may list several tactics and psychology preparation according to different situations, let rugby players sit quietly by themselves and think about the match scenes and winning points a bit.
Then relax.

  • 39.
  • At 03:22 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Ken wrote:

if robinson has received as much of the criticism that Farrell has received since his move from the ranks of Wigan Rugby League, where would we be now?

i think it is about time we look at the player not the background or the code they made their name in.

ashton knows best- who are we to argue, but if wilkenson goes, and we need an 80th minute drop to win, i think i would rather someone like Farrell come off the bench to do it, rather than looking at Floods earlier kicks!

  • 40.
  • At 03:57 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Matt in Rome wrote:

If you look at the two halves of the draw the two sides have come through since the group stages, with no disrespect to Argentina, Fiji and Scotland, England have come through a much tougher test than SA; 3 out of the top 5 plus England(6) in their half of the draw against SA with only Argentina (4) in their half.
I think this could be a decisive factor in the last 20 minutes of the match, SA have had it relatively easy all world cup, including the group match against England where we were under-par and under-strength. If it's close, which most people are expecting the fact that SA have been able to relax in the latter part of every match they've played could show up in their concentration levels and mental toughness, they were poor against Argentina in terms of concentration in the backs and effectiveness in the forwards, very un-SA like.

As for the team selection for England, experience is everything now so Cueto over Hipkiss is a natural choice, keep it close and those that have been there before will impose themselves on their opposite numbers more and more.

  • 41.
  • At 04:10 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • tim c wrote:

defensively more sound as posted on replacing josh
least disruptive choice more experience. Best choice ?.Tell you sunday morning, Horses for courses
and a large helping of fortune Au revoir will be blogless until sunday or until I find an e cafe en paris.
GOOD LUCK MAY ALL YOUR DREAMS .

  • 42.
  • At 04:27 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • David wrote:

I think one of the reasons for including Cueto is the cover for full-back. If Robinson is injured, then we had Lewsey who could change positions to 15, and move Tait (or even Richards) onto the wing.

With Tait starting, you would have to ask who is covering full-back from a sub point of view? I also think this is why Abendon was called up, if something happens to Robinson or Cueto before the game in training, you have no real cover in the squad.

Not that all the other reasons about Cueto's form (I assume it is good in training), etc don't apply, just another part of the consideration.

  • 43.
  • At 04:38 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Griqualand Jim wrote:

Boys, this is the Boer War all over again, and beware the snipers of Magersfontein. Don't try a frontal assault, you'll be mown down like ninepins.Watch your lines of communication, the commandos are creating havoc in the rear. Stay mobile,you need strong top of the ground runners. Does a Black Week lie just ahead? Don't get bottled up and assaulted like at Ladysmith or Kimberley or Mafeking. We don't want the sovereign to turn her head to the wall in grief. What will Kitchener demand? And Bob's your uncle. This is no Maginot Line assault boys. This is the sons of the veld, bred to battle. Who will scorch the earth and where will the concentration camps be? Take no prisoners, give 'em cold steel. "Be Prepared!" Scouting,foragers and Cossack posts. This is the moment of truth. Come the Bitter End. Backs to the wall. Who will burn the lines & blaze a trail? Habana the scorcher!!! Who will Victor's be? The opposition to be Smit 'en. Fourie's a jolly good fellow, the elusive pump 'em 'ell and Schulk's in ambush on the border. There'll be no Steyn on this team. The Butch 'er 'll see to that. Ox will trample 'n gore 'em, Hurrah! Charge! To the victor the spoils.

From an English Boer in Vietnam
{England is my second team,but no divided loyalties here)

  • 44.
  • At 07:05 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Dr. Ron Lloyd wrote:

Regarding Jonny Wilkinson's rather shaky kicking record with the World Rugby ball, why does'nt he aim for the right hand post? Seems to me he might pot a few more.
Come on England!!
Doc Ron Lloyd

  • 45.
  • At 09:53 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Harri wrote:

The backs won't be relevant unless the forwards and scrum half compete. That's where it was lost last time.

  • 46.
  • At 10:21 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Ribena wrote:

For a man who 'understands international rugby', I'm surprised that he imagines Abendanon was ever in with a shout of starting. The team has got through the last two massive games by playing solid, powerful rugby and trying to keep the mistakes to a minimum. To suggest Ashton would have gone against that in the final by chucking an inexperienced kid in on the wing for the final is ridiculous! Tait looked OK on the wing at the end of the France game and Hipkiss did well in the centre so it wouldn't have been a huge surprise if that's what he'd chosen to do. As it is, I think he's made the right choice in keeping the two centres the same and so Cueto is the natural choice to come in on the wing. Chucking Abendanon in would have been the third and most unlikely choice in my eyes.

  • 47.
  • At 12:49 PM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • jon wrote:

i personally think tait is a fantastic player. hipkiss is rather talented too, but should not be starteing. cueto is dodgy in defence but hopefully will be able to perform in front of the world.
johna

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