Mark Cueto has wrestled with his impending retirement ever since the announcement was made but he admits the decision go out on his own terms with Sale Sharks is ultimately the right one.
Cueto’s 14-year senior career will draw to a close away from home at Sandy Park on May 16 but he’ll wave goodbye to an adoring Sale crowd against Newcastle Falcons this Saturday.
It’s a one-club legacy that strikes a similarity with a certain Ryan Giggs just a few miles away at Old Trafford – and Cueto is still working his own wizardry well into his 30s at the AJ Bell.
He crossed the whitewash in a losing effort against Harlequins last time out and, with 14 Aviva Premiership Rugby appearances under his belt, has played far more than a bit-part role in his last season.
And though life without rugby may take a while to adjust to, the 35-year-old is as ready as he possibly can be for the great unknown.
“I keep having to go back to myself to reconfirm that it's (retirement) the right decision,” he said. “The questions sort of make you doubt it.
“Panic's not the right word but it is keeping me awake at night. It's definitely the right decision it's just going to be such a big change.
“The decision's been completely on my terms, it's not like I've been injured and retirement's been thrust on me.
“Guys in that position I think struggle really badly. For me it's been a process really of about two years and from a playing point of view this season's been a bit of a bonus really.
“I would never have signed for another year if I didn't think I could contribute the way I wanted and I think I've shown I was worth that extra season. I've played a lot recently and I'm still contributing which is what I wanted to do.
“I've also had a good 12-18 months to prepare for life after rugby and I'm mega busy now, with training every day, meetings with potential Sale sponsors for next year or a potential box holder, or press for the World Cup, which is good.
“If I was sat here thinking 'Right, I've got two games left, as of May 16th rugby's finished and I haven't got a clue what I'm going to do' then I would be panicking.”
Round 21 of Aviva Premiership Rugby will be dedicated to Restart Rugby, the official charity of The Rugby Players' Association (RPA), which helps RPA alumni members with financial, medical and emotional support.
As for Cueto, he will leave a Sale back-line stocked with young talent – Mike Haley has enjoyed a breakout season at full-back and Tom Brady has also impressed on the wings.
Throw in Tom Arscott – who with 12 tries has a chance to finish as Aviva Premiership Rugby’s leading try scorer – and Cueto believes the future of Sale could not be in brighter hands.
“Mike Haley, through breaking into the team this year, has given us another option in the back three,” added Cueto.
“Players like Tom Brady and Mike are the guys that should be looking at being the next players who spend their whole career here.
“Mike is 21 and Tom is 23 and he’s already got over 100 Prem games for Sale. They’re quality players.
“Tom Arscott is a little older at 27 or 28 but he’s having a fantastic season this season and I think from my point of view I’m leaving the club in a good state in the back three.
“Add to that Will Addison who plays in the back three every now and then, and potentially a new signing, and I think we’re looking in a decent state for the next year or two.”
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