Cueto has €150,000 incentive for charity

THERE’S €150,000 riding on Mark Cueto’s ability to continue his scoring spree through to the end of the season.

Cueto is a certain starter in the Sale Sharks side to meet Munster in the Heineken Cup Pool 1 opener at Edgeley Road, Stockport, tomorrow night (7.30) and while he cares passionately about winning, his big concern is to continue a remarkable trend of scoring tries ... all in the name of charity.

If Cueto scores every time he plays up to the end of the season, then a huge financial bonus will be contributed by club shirt sponsors McCaffrey to fund projects undertaken by organisations dealing with disadvantaged children.

“Maybe if I score against Munster and get injured for the rest of the season, they might still honour the agreement,” Cueto joked. “I don’t know really what the situation is but it’s a hard ask from my point of view.”

Cueto is in his sixth season with Sale and recognises the club, and individuals within, have had to fight hard to gain recognition within the English structure. He said: “We have not been the most consistent in terms of European rugby. We’ve had our good days, particularly in the secondary competitions, but we are now top of the Premiership and that’s a good feeling.

“Last week, we beat Wasps and that was a huge test of character for us. Now we look forward to another test against Munster, one of the most respected sides in Europe over a long number of seasons.

“We’ll show them that due respect. They’re a great side and have been at the coal face of the competition in the same time we struggled to find ourselves.

“But, the mood in the camp is good; we’re happy with what has happened this season and see this as a major challenge.

“I think you have to put Munster up there with Toulouse and Leicester. Munster’s track record proves they are there with the best; we aspire to be up there too but its obviously going to take some time. You’d be daft to underestimate Munster and we certainly won’t fall into silly traps like that.

“They have some great players, like Ronan O’Gara, who can dominate any match, and guys in the pack who have immense European and international experience so, no, we won’t go out on Friday believing we’ve any right to win.”

Sale coach Philippe Saint-Andre was more inquirer than the man with information at yesterday’s press conference in Stockport; asking what team Munster was likely to field.

True to the Munster coach’s tradition for springing surprises, he would not be at all shocked if Declan Kidney changed his team around.

“One of the problems with this game is I don’t know what to expect from Munster. Therefore I will have to keep something to myself too.”

Saint-Andre will name his team today and is sure to make changes from that which shocked Wasps in the Premiership last Friday.

“I don’t think there will be too many alterations, two, maybe three, but I do believe in alternating players in certain positions,” he said.

His tradition in Sale suggest the bulk of changes will be in the pack, Andy Titterrell probably coming in for Sebastian Bruno at hooker, Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe for Chris Jones in the second row and it is possible Nathan Bonner-Evans will start ahead of Sebastian Chabal, who will still play some part.

At out-half, it’s Charlie Hodgson against Ronan O’Gara, the two eventual highest fliers on the Lions Tour.

SALE SHARKS (probable): D. Larrechea, M. Cueto, M. Taylor, E. Seveali’i, J. Robinson (capt), C. Hodgson, S. Martens, A. Sheridan, A. Titterrell, B. Stewart, I.F. Lobbe, D. Schofield, J. White, N. Bonner-Evans, M. Lund.

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