Ugo Monye is targeting the perfect celebration to mark his 10 years as a Harlequins player. With the Quins sitting top of the table and recovering to some reasonable level of form they have never been in with a better chance of winning the league. And Monye is targeting just that for his club.
Harlequins sit six points clear of second place Saracens and seem to have already guaranteed a home semi final for the play offs. They are currently favourites to lift the Premiership trophy come May and having led the table from the very first week they would be deserved Champions should they do so.
Monye has been at the Stoop for 10 years and has only ever played for the Quins. “I’ve been at the club 10 years and I’ve only won two medals. I don’t think that’s good enough for a club like Harlequins”. Monye clearly believes his side deserve to have more success than they have in recent years and following their elimination from the Amlin Challenge Cup last weekend, their only chance of a trophy in 2012 is the big one, the league.
In his 10 years at the club money has been through a lot. 2005 saw him experience relegation with the Quins, surely an all time career low. 2009 saw the bloodgate saga rock Quins with the club being disgraced and a number of staff being banned from the game. 2009 also saw Monye, who had become an England regular, tour south Africa with the Lions.
For Monye and indeed for Harlequins lifting the Premiership trophy in May would cap an impressive recovery from the relegation season of 2005. So many clubs struggle to return to the top flight and disappear after relegation. But unlike West Hartlepool, Liverpool St Helens, Orrell, Bristol and others the Quins have recovered and this season could mark the ultimate recovery.
Nick Easter was one of a number of senior players to lose their place in the England side when Stuart Lancaster took over. But with Lancaster now confirmed as full time coach until 2015 Easter is targeting a return to the International scene.
Easter is targeting high profile games such as this weekend’s Amlin Challenge Cup game against Toulon to stake his claim for a place in Lancaster’s plans ahead of the summer tour of South Africa.
“I’ve been told that the door is not shut and I’m going to do all I can to show why I should be included” said Easter.
Easter’s reputation took a knock following the dismal world cup campaign, being linked to comments that the early exit meant “£35,000 down the toilet”. But Easter refuses to be made a scapegoat, instead aiming to focus on the positives of what he has done for England. “I’m very proud of what I’ve done for England and I certainly don’t want my international career to finish on the note that it did losing to France”.
On current form Easter is surely in contention for a spot in the England squad. He describes this year as “one of my best” and he is not far wrong. He has played a significant part in a campaign that has seen Harlequins sit at the top of the table throughout the season, and become one of the favourites for a European Cup win next season (acccording to the latest heineken cup betting).
Easter attended England’s victory over Ireland and sent Lancaster a congratulatory text reminding him to “not forget the old ones”.
Easter’s director of Rugby at Harlequins, Conor O’Shea was on the four man panel that recommended Lancaster for the job and he feels that any decision on Easter’s return will be made with an open mind by the new head coach.
O’Shea was keen to emphasise the way Easter would fit in well to the new set up and reiterated Easter’s belief that he could offer a lot to the England team in the future.