Rugby World Cup 2011
Cueto hits out at media - again
ESPNscrum Staff
October 20, 2011
England's Mark Cueto dives over for his first try of the World Cup, England v Romania, Rugby World Cup, Otago Stadium, Dunedin, New Zealand, September 24, 2011
Cueto scored a hat-trick against Romania in the pool stages © Getty Images

England winger Mark Cueto has lambasted the nation's media for spoiling his Rugby World Cup experience.

England's campaign was blighted by a number off-field controversies, including a tabloid scandal involving Mike Tindall following a night out in Queenstown with team-mates, the detention of Manu Tuilagi by police for jumping off a ferry and Chris Ashton, Dylan Hartley and James Haskell having to apologise for inappropriate behaviour towards a female hotel employee.

The incidents dominated the headlines for the duration of the squad's involvement in the tournament and Cueto admitted that the unwanted press attention detracted from what should have been an enjoyable time for him.

"The media side of the World Cup did spoil the experience for me personally and it didn't have to be like that," the Sale Sharks ace told the Manchester Evening News."Undoubtedly it spoiled the experience, it put added pressure onto a situation where there was already huge pressure there to start with.

"Not to sound like a whingeing schoolboy but other nations did what we did but didn't come in for half the criticism. Look at New Zealand winger Corey Jane - he went out on the Thursday two days before a game. It was reported in the papers over there the following day but then that was it, end of story.

"We went out having beaten the Argentineans seven days before our next match. We went on to win our next three matches yet we've come home and things are still being reported on in the press.

"Having gone through that we can completely appreciate the way the footballers are now. It was the footballers supporting us and it seemed they were the only guys while we were out there that had a positive word to say about us.

"Johnno [Martin Johnson, team manager] spent a year in New Zealand when he was younger, he's married to a Kiwi and knows the country really well and he wanted us to experience what New Zealand had to offer. Yet we were getting criticised for going out for a coffee. Then there was what happened when we went to Queenstown.

"We went there to do what everybody does in Queenstown - you go there to go bungee jumping, white water rafting and the like. We were doing those things and those lads who were injured like myself, didn't take part. We went there for a couple of days off and to take in what the country has to offer and yet we got criticised for it.

"Obviously, you have to appreciate that you are England and nine times out of 10 you will be scrutinised that little bit extra and obviously we have got a guy who has recently married into the Royal family [Mike Tindall, husband of the Queen's granddaughter, Zara Phillips] which has its own pressures.

"But all the coverage almost got away from sport and what we were there for and turned into gossip journalism. It's a shame but its something that we are going to have to learn from.

"We all knew that we were going into a goldfish bowl as New Zealand probably is the number one country in the world for rugby. We were aware of it but we probably got caught off guard a little bit so I think there are lessons to be learnt from it."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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