Monye still has England dream
Ugo Monye turned down lucrative moves to France because he was not prepared to give up on his England career after 13 caps.
Monye has been recalled to England's senior squad for the QBE autumn internationals after a blistering start to the season and he is poised to feature against Fiji on November 10.
The Harlequins wing has been stuck on unlucky 13 since he suffered a neck
injury at Murrayfield during England's desperate 15-15 draw with Scotland in
In the intervening time, Monye has struggled with injuries which affected his form and confidence. But he never gave up on his England ambitions.
The sense of unfinished business with both club and country persuaded him to turn down Racing Metro and stick with Harlequins.
The first reward came last season, when the club won their first Aviva Premiership title. Monye hopes the second will unfold this autumn.
"It would have shown a real lack of ambition from me to go to France,'' Monye said.
"I am an ambitious player. Thirteen caps. You want to achieve all you can achieve and I didn't feel as if I had done that.
"It was a huge decision whether to stay at Quins or go abroad. It affects everything.
"I thought if I was in France, watching the Harlequins boys win the Premiership on TV, I really would have been heartbroken.
"England was part of it too. If you go to France you put yourself out of the England picture.
"There are too many good players in the Premiership playing well in a tough league to put yourself out of the picture.
"I have given everything and sacrificed a lot to be in this position and I am desperate to play for England.
"I was excited driving up to this training camp. I was nervous before my fitness tests because I wanted to do well. This is a good place to be.
"I certainly wouldn't be here now with England if I had gone to France.''
England backs coach Andy Farrell has seen a renewed vigour about Monye's game, a hunger to improve this season that had not been as evident in recent years.
"Sometimes when you lose a bit of confidence it can give the impression that your hunger has gone because you are trying to find your feet and get your basics back,'' Monye said.
"Fortunately for me I am playing with confidence now, scoring tries and Quins are flying high at the top of the Premiership. I have got a hunger.
"This is the time when I feel I have deserved England selection the most - even more then when I got my first cap.''
Monye toured with England in the summer and the environment he has found under Stuart Lancaster is poles apart from the one he experienced under Martin Johnson.
"The last time I was involved with England, we weren't going well as a team,'' he said.
"It was a poor game at Murrayfield. It was wet - as it normally is against Scotland - it was a draw and then I got knocked out on top of all that. You never want to be carried off the pitch.
"I guess that was my last memory of playing for England. It would be nice to get some better ones.
"Watching the development of the guys over the last year, and having been here in camp for the last couple of days, I am so excited because I feel I can really make an impact on the team.
"We have a confident squad with a lot of players who are playing well for their clubs and we have a really good team bond and a real understanding of where we want to go. That is so powerful.
"I'm probably more excited now than I was when I won my first cap. Once England is taken away from you, I think you appreciate it even more. If the opportunity comes I'll be buzzing.''
At the end of the season looms the Lions tour. Players will always say they are only focusing on next week's game, but not Monye. For him, the Lions is too big a carrot.
"I was talking to Danny Care about the Lions on the way up here and it is a goal,'' he said.
"If you don't want to aim for the Lions you shouldn't be playing international rugby. Every player is desperate to be on that tour. Being on a Lions tour is the best thing I have ever done.
"So much can happen between now and then but I am one step further up the ladder.''