It has taken a while, but having missed out first on a Lions place and then on a Churchill Cup trip to Canada, Mark Cueto of Sale has finally been given the international recognition his form deserves.
Cueto, who has scored eight tries in his eight England matches to date, as well as a further 10 for Sale in the Premiership, was yesterday named in the 29-man England squad to face the Barbarians at Twickenham on 28 May. Jamie Noon has also been selected in a strong squad that includes Jonny Wilkinson, Mike Tindall and Phil Vickery.
The England assistant coach, Joe Lydon, is in charge for the Barbarians game and the Churchill Cup tour because the England head coach, Andy Robinson, will be with the Lions.
The Worcester captain, Pat Sanderson, the Churchill Cup squad captain, leads the side, with Andy Gomarsall, who joins Worcester from Gloucester for next season, as his vice-captain.
Cueto has some new team-mates, with Sale yesterday signing the Samoan centre Elvis Sevalai'i and No 8 Nathan Bonner-Evans from Neath-Swansea Ospreys and Lionel Faure from Pau, who meet Sale in the European Challenge Cup final on 21 May.
The Northampton scrum-half Mark Robinson has agreed a three-year extension to his contract that will keep him at Franklin's Gardens until 2009. The former All Black is serving a 14-match ban for stamping on the head of the Leeds hooker Mark Regan during a Powergen Cup quarter-final tie in January.
Gloucester have re-signed Ludovic Mercier from Pau. The France A stand-off was the leading Premiership points-scorer in the two seasons he was at Kingsholm before he left in 2003.
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