Sharks sign up England stars

Last updated at 14:41 10 January 2005

England internationals Charlie Hodgson and Mark Cueto today committed their futures to Sale Sharks by signing new contracts with the Zurich Premiership club.

Both players were out of contract at the end of this season, and they had been targeted by top European clubs, but the new deals mean they will remain Sale players until at least 2007.

Hodgson, England's current fly-half in the continued absence of injury-stricken Jonny Wilkinson, said he was keen to thrash out a new contract as soon as he could.

"I have always been happy at Sale Sharks, and I know that with our current squad of players and coaching staff, we have an excellent chance of winning silverware," he said.

"I wanted to sort out the deal as soon as possible as we have back-to-back cup quarter-finals coming up against Agen and Bath, and these games will shape our season before the Six Nations commences."

Wing Cueto, who was linked with a move to Saracens, has made a major impact with England, scoring four tries in three appearances during the autumn Tests.

"Sale Sharks gave me my big chance in 2001, and I am settled in the area," Cueto said.

"There was interest from other clubs, but I never wanted to leave the Sharks who, I believe, are on the verge of great things."

Sharks chief executive Niels de Vos added: "We have realistic ambitions to become the best club in the country over the next few years, and this means we must retain our best players.

"Charlie is one of the outstanding fly-halves in world rugby at present, while Mark Cueto has been continually at the top of the Premiership tryscoring charts - form he is now bringing to the international arena.

"There isn't a club in the Premiership who wouldn't want these two players, and I am delighted that Sale Sharks have kept them here at Edgeley Park, alongside Jason Robinson, who signed a similar deal earlier in the season."

Sharks have also announced two-year contract extensions for prop Barry Stewart and lock Dean Schofield.

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