Ugo Monye firmly believes England can upset the odds and win their first RBS 6 Nations title in seven years.
Head coach Martin Johnson named rugby league converts Shontayne Hape and Chris Ashton in his squad for the tournament yesterday and was in bullish mood about his side's chances of success despite another dismal autumn campaign.
The last time England lifted the Six Nations trophy was in 2003 when Johnson captained Clive Woodward's team through an unbeaten campaign that included a crushing 42-6 win over Ireland in the Grand Slam decider at Lansdowne Road.
Johnson went on to lift the William Webb Ellis trophy later that year and he now hopes the current squad can follow that same path to glory, with the next World Cup little over a year away.
Harlequins wing Monye, meanwhile, is urging his team-mates to defy their position as outsiders and believes they can win the tournament.
"We definitely should go into it thinking that we can win it," Monye told Press Association Sport.
"It will be difficult but I think it is definitely possible that we can win it. All we have to do is have the belief that we can do it.
"We have very high expectations of ourselves and just have to have the confidence to win it.
"We have a very good coaching staff and have to have belief within the playing staff that we can win it.
"We have players who are playing well for their teams domestically and we just need them to transfer that form onto the international stage."
Monye was a regular in Johnson's squad throughout last year and played in all three of England's autumn Tests - a laboured win over Argentina and defeats by New Zealand and Australia.
Johnson's position, as well as the rest of his backroom staff, came under scrutiny and Monye himself endured a torrid time on the pitch.
The 26-year-old found himself switched from wing to full-back and produced an error-strewn performance against Argentina that threw his place in the team into doubt.
The Quins man denies there is any problem with the England coaching set-up, though, and believes the criticism will only make the squad stronger.
"There's nothing wrong with the coaches at all," Monye said.
"It was a frustrating series for us as a team and it was frustrating for me on a personal level in the second game.
"It was good for me to have the experience of playing against New Zealand. I had to play two games at full-back but when I was out on the wing I was much more comfortable.
"The criticism made us stronger as a unit and we tried not to get involved," he added.
"It's not nice hearing it but obviously the management are going to be the first ones in the firing line when things go wrong."
:: We spoke to Ugo Monye over a pint of Greene King IPA, the Official Beer of Harlequins and England Rugby.Reuse content