Ugo Monye says the British & Irish Lions can ‘run riot’ if they get a solid attacking platform.
Much has been made of the war in the forwards in the build-up to the first Test, and it is indisputable that the result will hinge largely on whichever set of heavies gain the ascendency.
Two talent-laden sets of backlines are relying on the fat boys to establish a solid attacking platform, and Monye believes they have the artillery in their back division to inflict serious damage if they are given the opportunity.
‘We’ve got a fantastic squad who are very adaptable – we’ve got a big power game when we need it, and some great skill and speed in the backline. If we can get the mix right then I think we’ve got a really good chance of beating them,’ the Lions’ wing told keo.co.za. ‘There’s a massive amount of potential in the backline, and if we get the right platform we should run riot.’
Monye did, however, temper his confidence with some perspective.
‘It’s going to be a massive step up from what we’ve experienced in the warm-up games,’ he said. ‘I’ve been involved in three games and been a spectator for the other three, and they’ve all been physical.
‘But there’s no comparison between provincial rugby and Test rugby against the world champions in their backyard. Everything is against us, but we do believe we can win.’
Monye confirmed that the Lions expect the Springboks to come into the first Test undercooked, but stressed that they would still pose a formidable challenge.
‘They’ve been in camp for a couple of weeks so they would have worked off some rust, but a lot of the guys are still recovering from a long season,’ he noted.
‘That said, we know it’s going to be a challenge. They’ve been waiting for this for 12 years, and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for some of their players.’
Monye’s strong performances in the lead-up fixtures earned him a start ahead of IRB World Player of the Year, Shane Williams. He realises the expectation is massive, but refuses to let it dictate his mental state.
‘I don’t feel any pressure to fill Shane’s shoes, to be honest. It’s been quite simple, I’m getting on with the way I’ve played all season. I have the confidence and belief that the coaches have selected me for the right reasons,’ he said.
By Ryan Vrede, in Durban