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Monye calm over Ashton threat to his England spot

ENGLAND wing Ugo Monye had hoped to play a starring role in last weekend’s Six Nations showdown with France; instead he was reduced to watching it on television in a south-west London pub.

The head injury that contributed to Monye’s absence paved the way for Chris Ashton to make his debut, and the young Northampton winger excelled, setting up the game’s only try as a much-improved England bowed out with a 12-10 defeat.

But despite admitting his distress at missing out – and being ribbed mercilessly throughout by friends – the Harlequins star is refusing to see Ashton’s ascent as a blow to his own international aspirations.

“It doesn’t make a difference who’s playing well – I just focus on my game. I can’t spend time worrying about how other people are playing or their form,” Monye told City A.M. at yesterday’s City Scrum Cup. “You’ve got to think about No1 and be selfish and I’ll just focus all my energy on me performing well and Quins winning the rest of our six games.

“I was massively gutted to miss out. I love playing against the French. It could have been a huge opportunity for me. Leading up to the weekend everyone was really excited, quite emotional and really wanted a great performance. To watch it sat in the pub as a spectator rather than participating was quite frustrating.

“I’m not a great spectator so it was nice to have a couple of mates around to take my frustration out on. They were giving me some stick. You always get a bit of banter and a lot of rugby banter’s quite close to the bone, but I see it as a sign of endearment.”

Monye says he is “still struggling a little bit” with the head injury, sustained in the 15-15 draw with Scotland almost two weeks ago, but hopes to be back for Quins’ trip to Bath on Saturday. Beyond that the 26-year-old is aiming to be part of an England squad that builds on recent improvements during the summer tour to Australia.

“I think we played quite well this Six Nations. We lost by an aggregate total of about six points – it was so tight,” he added. “The France game has given us a lot of confidence but we can’t just draw on those memories when we go off to Australia. It’s up to the players to go back to their clubs and keep that form so we can hit the ground running.”