/ Rugby

Cueto defends England players

Updated: Monday, 03 Oct 2011 11:06

Mark Cueto - "Things have happened. We have learned from them. We have had to learn from them and we have improved our discipline off the field"
Mark Cueto - "Things have happened. We have learned from them. We have had to learn from them and we have improved our discipline off the field"

Mark Cueto today launched a vehement defence of England's off-field conduct and insisted there are no more skeletons in the closet.

England's progress to the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals has been scarred by two incidents which have led to questions about team discipline.

Martin Johnson defended the conduct of Mike Tindall and a group of players who enjoyed a drunken night out in Queenstown after England's victory over Argentina.

It emerged yesterday the England manager had angrily reprimanded James Haskell, Chris Ashton and Dylan Hartley for making lewd comments to a female staff member at their Dunedin hotel.

Cueto fired an angry broadside at what he perceived to be "horrendous" coverage of Tindall's now infamous night out in Queenstown.

But the Sale wing conceded the reaction had been a sobering lesson to the squad about the pressures of playing at a World Cup in New Zealand - and he stressed there had been no further incidents.

"There have been a couple of things gone on and in another country they may have been nothing but in this country, with the goldfish bowl we are in, it is a big deal," said Cueto.

"Whether it is naive or not, sometimes you don't quite understand it until you get amongst it.

"Things have happened. We have learned from them. We have had to learn from them and we have improved our discipline off the field.

"I don't think standards have slipped. With the Tins thing, we are talking about a couple of guys going out for a few beers. What is wrong with that?

"If the boys can't go out and have a few beers then it is a sad world that we live in.

"It is a reality check that such a small thing can be made into such a massive deal.

"As a group of players we have spoken about it with and without the management. We know exactly where we are at now and I am sure there will be no more stories like that to come out."

Cueto missed England's final pool victory over Scotland but he is in line to start against France in
the quarter-final after Delon Armitage was today suspended for a dangerous tackle.

And he insisted the reaction to those off-field incidents would not distract England from the job at hand.

"I would have thought that would be pretty obvious. The bottom line is we are here to win the World Cup," Johnson said.

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