Being under fire has created a siege mentality, claims Cueto

We're in a goldfish bowl but criticism has brought us together, says England winger

England's players are under heavy fire from all directions: not only have the New Zealanders dismissed their rugby as boring and the buoyant Celts condemned them as old-fashioned, but their own countrymen are castigating them for being wildly undisciplined. Yesterday, they retaliated by rejecting claims that they are the worst-behaved red rose team to visit these shores since... well, the last red rose team to come here, a little over three years ago. Notoriously, that side spent the second half of a two-week tour refusing to help police with their inquiries about alleged sexual shenanigans during the first half.

"In another country, all this might have added up to nothing," said Mark Cueto, the experienced wing who played in the last World Cup final and has been a mainstay of the side since Martin Johnson took over as manager in the late spring of 2008. "In this country, it's a big thing. A couple of incidents have occurred and we understand that we're in a goldfish bowl, but people need to move on and write about other stuff. We're talking three whole weeks ago, but people are still going on about it."

He was talking of the much-discussed events in Dunedin and Queenstown early in the tournament: allegations by a hotel chambermaid of harassment in the first town, Mike Tindall's drunken antics in the second. Cueto was particularly supportive of Tindall, whose royal connection – he married Zara Phillips during the summer – has increased his worldwide profile by approximately 100 per cent. "It's horrendous – give the guy a break," he remarked. "If the boys can't go out and have a couple of beers, it's a sad world we're living in."

Cueto was clearly put out about the deluge of rotten publicity surrounding some of his colleagues: not just Tindall, who has now changed his story about his precise whereabouts during the now infamous booze session following last month's victory over Argentina, but also the three players – Chris Ashton, Dylan Hartley and James Haskell – who were ordered to apologise to the Dunedin hotel worker after she complained of their behaviour towards her at the start of the trip.

"Actually, I do think it's brought us closer together," said the wing. "Yes, this has come as a reality check for us all: I'm one of the senior players here and I've been to New Zealand before, but when you come here for a World Cup it's a completely different environment. We do feel as though mountains have been made out of molehills, though. I'm surprised that it's still being made out to be an issue."

As if they did not have enough on their plate, England learnt yesterday that their old friend Steve Walsh would be handling this weekend's quarter-final against France at Eden Park. They would not dream of saying so in public, but they are not exactly beside themselves with glee at the thought.

The New Zealander, who now referees under the Australian flag, is operating at the top level once again after finding himself at the centre of one controversy too many and going perilously close to forfeiting his Test status for good. At the 2003 World Cup, he was involved in a bizarre touch-line argument with the England fitness coach Dave Reddin during a game against Samoa: strong language was used, bottled water was squirted in anger. Two years later, while running the touch during a game on the Lions tour of New Zealand, he had a fractious exchange with Shane Horgan, the Irish wing.

* The England centre Manu Tuilagi has been fined $10,000 [£5,000] for wearing a sponsored mouthguard. The International Rugby Board imposed the sanction after discovering that Tuilagi had worn the guard during England’s first two World Cup games against Argentina and Georgia.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain