Monye eyes second British & Irish Lions tour
October 31, 2012
Ugo Monye's hopes of a Test cap during England's recent tour of South Africa were dashed by a head injury suffered in a midweek clash © Getty Images
England winger Ugo Monye is dreaming of a return to British & Irish Lions colours next year after getting his international career back on track.
The Quins speedster looks set to make his first Test appearance for over two years when England kick off their end of year campaign against Fiji at Twickenham on November 10 and is keen to use it as a stepping stone to a second Lions tour having taken a starring role in South Africa in 2009.
"Everyone says they don't think about it but it is a goal," said the 29-year-old in a break during England's training camp at St George's Park in Burton. "I am very much process-driven but I am very much aware that it is there and you can't get away from it as everyone talks about it.
"You would be kidding yourself if you didn't aim for that. If you don't want to aim for that then you shouldn't be playing international rugby. It is a huge carrot but I have always said, if I play well for Harlequins then hopefully I will play for England and if I play well for England hopefully I will go with the Lions.
"Hopefully I am a step up that ladder at the moment but of course there is still so much to happen between now. But having been on the South Africa tour, that was the best thing I have ever done in rugby, to go again would be incredible."
Monye finds himself able to ponder another career milestone having emerged from the international wilderness with his last Test cap coming in a forgettable Six Nations clash with Scotland that ended with the winger being stretchered from the field.
Injuries continued to blight his attempts to resurrect his international with the latest coming during England's summer tour to South Africa with Monye poised to claim a place in the Test side. Further disappointment followed on his return to England when he failed to earn selection in the latest England Elite Player Squad announced in July.
But now the Quins stalwart is fit and firing and riding a strong run of form that has carried his side to the top of the Premiership and their Heineken Cup pool and also caught the eye of England coach Stuart Lancaster. As a result, it was Monye who was chosen to fill the sizeable void left by an injury to Northampton fullback Ben Foden and not his fleet-footed Premiership rivals and fellow Saxons - Wasps' Christian Wade and Gloucester's Jonny May.
"Sometimes when you lose confidence through form or injury or whatever, you can give the impression that the hunger has gone but you are trying to find your feet again trying to get the basics back," said Monye. "Fortunately for me I am playing with confidence, scoring tries and I have got the hunger. I think my place in the squad comes when I deserve it the most - even more so when I got my first cap. I've given everything, made sacrifices and worked so hard to get myself in this position and I am desperate to play for England again."
Pressed on the changes he has made that have propelled him back into the international reckoning, Monye pointed to the example offered by Great Britain's Olympic heroes with Tour de France and gold medal-winning cyclist Bradley Wiggins the latest inspirational figure to address the squad during their latest camp.
"It's a case of managing yourself, your personal life as well as your professional life, " he said. "We've had loads of chats recently and the rowers have got a pretty famous quote - 'if it doesn't make your boat go faster' - and I guess you have to analyse yourself and look at your social life, extra time training, extra physio, extra re-hab. That' something that has helped me this summer with my hamstring. I have never worked harder on my rehab and its put me in a really good place where I can play consistently well."
With Saracens winger Chris Ashton sidelined for the Fiji clash through suspension, Monye looks well-placed to add to his 13 England caps with Gloucester's Charlie Sharples, Quins' Mike Brown and Saracens' Alex Goode also in the mix for the back three berths. And Monye admits the excitement levels are akin to those he felt ahead of his Test bow in 2008.
"I'm probably more excited at the prospect," he said. "Once you have had a taste and it is taken away from you and there is then is a potential opportunity for you to return then you don't want to let it go again."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Graham Jenkins is the Senior Editor of ESPNscrum and you can also follow him on Twitter.