Harlequins wary of flying Earls threat
Published 27/04/2011 | 05:00
Harlequins winger Ugo Monye has marked out Keith Earls as one of the main threats to his side's chances of progressing past Munster in Saturday's Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final.
The 28-year-old Londoner has played against the Limerick man once before, when England went down at home to Ireland during the 2010 Six Nations, a game in which Earls scored his first championship try.
Having roomed together during the 2009 Lions tour to South Africa, however, Monye is acutely aware of the danger posed by Earls, and is urging his Quins team-mates to put the shackles on his former bunk-mate.
"For me, Keith was the one guy who developed most on that Lions tour, not just as a rugby player but also as a person," said Monye, who is likely to line out on the left wing this Saturday.
"He was one of the youngest guys in the squad and didn't have that much international experience. It can be quite daunting going into that sort of tour environment, but the confidence that he was exuding by the end of the tour was really quite remarkable.
"Everyone knew he was talented, but he showed a side to his personality which, perhaps, people weren't aware of. He's a tremendous character, very tough mentally, and he plays the game with exactly that attitude.
"He is a very talented player, and a top bloke, and stopping him will be uppermost in our thoughts."
Monye is one of the few Quins players to have been involved when the English Premiership side last played Munster, and actually scored a try in their 18-10 defeat at Twickenham in January 2005.
He has never played in Limerick before, however, and while Munster's home record against English opposition isn't lost on him, he is nevertheless keen to sample the atmosphere.
"Thomond Park is one of those iconic stadiums in European rugby," he said. "Many of us haven't played there before, but we know all about Munster's record there, which is second to none. But we're a young side and we're excited about these kinds of challenges. If you go to Thomond Park with fear or even anxiety, then you might as well not even bother showing up.
"So we're going there with everything to gain and nothing to lose. It's a one-off game for both sides. Munster will be hurting that they are out of the Heineken Cup, and we're delighted to be in the semi-final."
He added: "In many ways it will be like a final, because there will be no tomorrow for the losers."
- Ospreys back-row Jerry Collins has been sighted for a dangerous tackle on Munster's Felix jones in last weekend's 22-20 defeat in Swansea.