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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 October 2007, 12:52 GMT 13:52 UK
England turn to Cueto for final
England coach Brian Ashton (left) talks with Mark Cueto during training on Tuesday
Ashton and Cueto discuss tactics during training on Tuesday

England v South Africa
Saturday, 20 October
Stade de France, Paris
Kick-off: 2000 BST
Live on BBC Radio 5live and the BBC Sport website

Mark Cueto replaces the injured Josh Lewsey on England's wing in Saturday's World Cup final against South Africa.

It is coach Brian Ashton's only change to the starting XV that beat hosts France 14-9 in the semi-final.

Centre Dan Hipkiss had been favourite to start after he came on as a substitute when Lewsey pulled a hamstring against France last weekend.

Mathew Tait and Mike Catt continue at centre as England look to become the first nation to retain the World Cup.

Ashton admitted it had been a tough decision but opted for Sale specialist winger Cueto.

He said: "It was a pretty close call.


"It was the fact Mark has played a lot of international rugby in the back three, and we expect a fair old aerial bombardment on Saturday."

It is Cueto's fourth start at the tournament and his first since the 36-20 pool A victory over Tonga almost three weeks ago.

The 27-year-old picked up a hamstring injury in that game and has since had to watch from the sidelines as England beat Australia and France to reach the final.

"It has been a frustrating time for me in general," said Cueto, who has scored 13 tries during a 23-cap Test career and began the World Cup as England's full-back against the United States.

"I have had two weeks to prepare for this game and I am raring to get out there and show people what I can do.

"I feel I have a lot to prove. The World Cup hasn't gone exactly how I would have liked it to, personally.

England's Mark Cueto (left) playing against Tonga
Cueto is yet to score a try at the World Cup

"To be in a final is exceptional for the side but I feel I have a point to prove to myself and to everyone. To get the opportunity to do that in a final is a special chance.

"It was getting to me that I could finish this World Cup having not shown people what I can do on the biggest stage.

"I played in three of the four pool games and it wasn't until the knockout stage that we showed the character and the ability of what we have got within the squad."

He added: "I missed out on the Australia quarter-final and it is difficult to change a winning side, especially this late in the competition.

"The logic side of your brain is telling you that if the team wins in the knockout stages of a World Cup, you are unlikely to get a chance.

"But the other side of your brain is telling you to keep working. You never know what might happen. And now that opportunity has come around."

BBC Sport's Mark Orlovac

BBC 5live commentator Alistair Hignell said: "He's been off form recently but he's a proven tryscorer at international level and I think that's what tipped the balance in his favour."

Hipkiss added: "It's probably the biggest game I will be involved in and obviously you want to be starting those but the disappointment only lasted a couple of moments and I'm over that now.

"I was told before training last night and from that training session on I was looking to start again and get the team and backs in particular the best prepared they can be for Saturday."

There are four starting line-up survivors from England's World Cup final triumph against Australia in 2003 - full-back Jason Robinson, fly-half Jonny Wilkinson, prop Phil Vickery and lock Ben Kay.

And centre Catt, 36 last month, will become the oldest player to feature in a World Cup final.

No country has ever successfully defended the Webb Ellis Trophy and South Africa will start as favourites after crushing England 36-0 in a pool encounter last month.

The Springboks are due to name their team at 0830 BST on Thursday.

England team: Jason Robinson; Paul Sackey, Mathew Tait, Mike Catt, Mark Cueto, Jonny Wilkinson, Andy Gomarsall; Andrew Sheridan, Mark Regan, Phil Vickery (capt), Simon Shaw, Ben Kay, Martin Corry, Lewis Moody, Nick Easter.
Replacements: George Chuter, Matt Stevens, Lawrence Dallaglio, Joe Worsley, Peter Richards, Toby Flood, Danny Hipkiss

Cueto gets the nod
17 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union
Injured Lewsey to miss Cup final
15 Oct 07 |  English
Josh Lewsey's column
15 Oct 07 |  English
South Africa 37-13 Argentina
14 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union
England 14-9 France
13 Oct 07 |  English


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