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Page last updated at 11:56 GMT, Sunday, 14 June 2009 12:56 UK

Confident Monye targets Test spot

Lions wing Ugo Monye celebrates his try against Western Province
Monye has scored three tries in his two starts on tour so far

By Bryn Palmer
BBC Sport in Cape Town

Ugo Monye insists he is "100%" ready if he is chosen to make his Lions Test debut against South Africa on Saturday.

The England flier is favourite to claim the left-wing spot after scoring his third try of the tour in the 26-23 win over Western Province.

"I have no nerves, I feel as though I have fitted really well into the squad and played quite well," he said.

"Confidence is so high at the moment. Next Saturday can't come quick enough for the boys."

He added: "We all have utter trust and belief in what we are about and what the coaches are trying to build."

Test selection for the Lions would cap a remarkable season for the 26-year-old, who only made his England debut last autumn.

The Harlequins wing then missed the first half of the Six Nations after suffering "ridiculous" back spasms shortly before he was due to join England's training camp.


Eighteen months earlier the same problem had left him lying on his back for a week and sidelined him for two months, but this time he recovered within three weeks and returned to win his fifth and sixth caps in England's final two matches.

The committed Christian, who back at home leads Bible classes on a weekly basis at the Holy Trinity Church in Fulham, is flourishing within the Lions environment.

"This time last year I was in the England Saxons team, and I didn't even start the first game on that tour," he noted after Saturday's victory in Cape Town.

"I think timing is everything. I have got a lot of self-belief and my faith has helped me as well. I believe if you put your trust in the big man, everything is possible.

"I hope I've done enough to make the Test team but I certainly don't want to be too comfortable. I don't think the team is obvious at all. They have mixed up combinations right through the tour so far.

"This could have been the last game I play before the Test but Luke [Fitzgerald] also scored a try on Wednesday [against the Sharks], Shane [Williams] is the World Player of the Year and Tommy [Bowe] is playing well so you could pick everybody."

Powell admits Test selection is tight

With Bowe certain to claim the right wing jersey for the match in Durban though, Monye is up against the Irishman and Welshman for the number 11 jersey, with full-back Rob Kearney - who can also play wing - the other alternative.

Monye, who scored twice against the Golden Lions in his other tour outing, owes all three of his tries so far to Bowe's intelligent angles of running off his flank, creating opportunities that the pacy Londoner has plundered with aplomb.

"He is a great winger and with Rob Kearney there as well it has been easy to slot in between the two of them," Monye added.

"Our attacking combinations seem to be coming on, we have got a really good pattern and shape, and without the ball our defence has also been strong.

"We probably got more value out of this game [against Western Province] than we did against the Golden Lions. It was good to have to show even more grit and determination, but we are five [wins] from five and everyone is really happy.

"You wouldn't be on this tour if you didn't have the mental capability and skill level to be able to gel together, but it is also about personalities.

"There are zero egos out here, everyone is mucking in, everyone has a voice and everyone is happy to be heard. The coaches are very adaptable and it has been great, a lot easier than I expected.

"The team bond which we have built has happened so quickly and that makes it easy. It is just a case of getting those combinations right now. You can see glimpses of it, we just need to keep that consistency over 80 minutes."

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see also
McGeechan praises Lions character
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Western Province 23-26 Lions
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Western Province v Lions as it happened
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Davies wants 'clarity' over Jones
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Ryan Jones makes swift Lions exit
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Sharks 3-39 Lions
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Cheetahs 24-26 Lions
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Golden Lions 10-74 Lions
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