Monye ready to atone for 'stinker'

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The Independent Online

Ugo Monye is ready for anything New Zealand throw at him after a particularly apt church service last Sunday put his "absolute stinker" of a performance against Argentina into clear perspective.

The Pumas ruthlessly exposed Monye's inexperience as a stand-in full-back and peppered him with a barrage of kicks until his technique and confidence under the high ball was shot to bits.

England's attack coach Brian Smith put Monye out of his misery at half-time by moving him back to the wing, which is where he will start against New Zealand on Saturday.

Monye was tough on himself immediately after the game - but by Monday morning he had dealt with the disappointment, with the help of his faith, and he is now relishing the chance to tackle New Zealand.

"I had an absolute stinker last weekend. It was probably the worst I have played in my whole career and I wanted to deal with it as quickly as possible," he said.

"I analysed the game on the Saturday night and I went to church on Sunday and that gave me strength.

"The service was all about healing - and I probably needed a bit of that on Sunday.

"It was nice to hear some refreshing thoughts, to put things into perspective and get away from everything that happened the day before.

"Now I am confident, I have probably trained harder this week, I am more focused and I am happy to be on the wing this weekend. I have predominantly played all my rugby there.

"I am happy under the high ball, chasing and receiving. I think it is one of the strengths of my game.

"If New Zealand want to challenge me early in the game then I am happy for them to do that."

Monye's character, and the manner in which he dealt swiftly with the disappointment of last week, has been praised by England manager Martin Johnson.

"Ugo is a high-character guy and a good guy to have in the squad. I thought he handled himself particularly well," said Johnson.

"I had a word with him earlier in the week and he wants to get out there and play. He will probably think he has to make amends - I don't think he does.

"We all make mistakes and he wasn't the only one on Saturday. That happens in difficult conditions in Test matches.

"They put very good pressure on him. If you put any back-three player in the world under that sort of pressure you will struggle.

"He did an admirable job because when you are under that sort of pressure it is easy to fold and go into your shell but he came back with a good run out of defence."

Monye believes he has learned a great deal about dealing with setbacks from his experience with the Lions in the summer, when he was dropped for the second Test after missing two try-scoring opportunities.

The Harlequins winger stuck to his guns and was recalled for the third Test, scoring a vital interception try in the Lions' victory at Ellis Park.

"I realise that one game doesn't mean you are a bad player," he continued. "I had an absolute stinker on Saturday and I am certainly not going to hide from that.

"All my basic skills went out the window. It was just one of those days. I know I certainly wont be having the shocker I had last weekend - I don't think that is possible!"