Mark Cueto defends Martin Johnson's England reign

By Ben DirsBBC Sport

Mark Cueto has defended Martin Johnson's reign over the past year, saying England have "played exciting rugby" and had "some huge results".

England endured a troubled World Cup campaign in New Zealand, both on and off the pitch, and were knocked out at the quarter-final stage.

"No team wants to play boring rugby," said Sale and England wing Cueto.

"But everyone you come up against at international level is good opposition and that makes it harder."

Cueto, whose World Cup campaign was hampered by fitness issues, cited England's two victories over Australia last year as evidence Johnson's sides could play an exciting brand of rugby and beat the best in the world.

But asked if England could learn anything from the manner in which Wales play the game - Warren Gatland's side having reached the semi-finals of the World Cup playing an expansive, attack-minded game - Cueto maintained international rugby was "all about results".

Cueto said: "No-one cares about how you're playing if you're getting results. The result is the priority, the performance is number two. That's rugby, that's the way it always has been and that's the way it always will be."

Manager Johnson's position is under review by the Rugby Football Union and he has been given until Monday to decide whether to reapply for the role.

And a succession of former England players have called for Johnson and his coaching team to go.

But Cueto's Sale team-mate Andrew Sheridan denied it had been a disastrous World Cup campaign for England and said there were reasons for optimism.

"It's clear we didn't play to our potential but I don't think we were horrendous," said prop Sheridan, who played in England's opening-game win over Argentina before being ruled out of the tournament with a shoulder injury.

"We lost one game. We didn't play as well as we could have done and had a couple of defensive lapses against France but we won the Six Nations and had some good successes the previous autumn.

"There's no reason we can't build on some of that success and put some of this disappointment behind us and go on in a positive light."

Meanwhile, the 31-year-old Cueto said that while it was good to be back with club side Saleexternal-link, who are currently fourth in the Aviva Premiership, he felt he still had a future with England.

"There's been such a huge amount of change here, it's like a new club in terms of facilities, playing staff, coaching staff, there's been a complete overhaul and that's good," said Cueto, who scored a hat-trick against Romania in New Zealand.

"I've only been back a couple of days and it's a positive place to come to work, people have got smiles on their faces and are enjoying it. It's going well and that makes it so much easier coming back.

"My heart's with Sale, I go out every week for Sale and do as well as I can, and hopefully if I do that the bigger picture will fall into place.

"It's down to the selectors at the end of the day but I feel as good now as I've ever felt and I'm just concentrating on playing well for Sale. If I do that I'll put myself in the shop window."

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