- England wing primed for maiden Test at HQ
- “When I’m at my best, I’m just reacting instinctively” – May
Back in 2009, Jonny May announced his mercurial talent by scoring a hat-trick of tries as Hartpury College overcame Clifton 41-31 in the EDF Energy Intermediate Cup final at Twickenham. Almost five years on, a first Test at HQ awaits – and the Gloucester Rugby wing is relishing the prospect.
Forced off in Paris after just seven minutes with a fractured nose, May lasted much longer against Scotland at Murrayfield in the second match of the RBS 6 Nations. Sparking a great deal of the visitors’ go-forward, he lacerated Scottish defence on numerous occasions to rack up 92 metres from just 11 carries.
Looking back at his teenage success at the home of England Rugby, the 23 year-old explained his excitement.
“Obviously it’s going to be a first for me in a Test match,” he said. “Having felt the other teams’ support in the first two matches, it’ll be nice to have that on our side this time.
Photo: Getty Images
“Hartpury ended up playing twice at Twickenham in two finals within a week and won both. I’ve played there a few times and really enjoyed it but I’ve always felt that I’d want to play there in a full Test for England. It’s a dream come true to think that might happen on Saturday.
“I wasn’t too different back then – I remember I was playing outside centre and it was a really sunny day. The pitch was really nice and the style of rugby we played suited me very well. I have very fond memories of Hartpury.”
Having faced Munster twice this season during Gloucester’s Heineken Cup campaign, May is well aware of the hallmarks of Irish rugby – namely immense intensity and work-rate that rushes rivals.
However, he was also keen to highlight the influence of fly half Johnny Sexton as a composing presence that brings accuracy and pinpoint game-management.
“Ireland are athletic, physical and get very stuck into the breakdown,” May added. “They’re a tough outfit to play against and have a huge amount of experience and quality throughout their team.
Photo: Getty Images
“Sexton is a quality fly half who can take it to the line and make decisions really late because his body language is hard to read.
“[As wings] we’re going to have to be on our best form to try and anticipate his kicks. Then if he does pass it, we’ve got to be up in the line helping to defend as well.”
Set to win a fourth cap on Saturday, May is clearly developing as rapidly as one of his runs and he finished by insisting the enormity of the encounter would not stifle any adventure or invention.
“Each game is getting bigger and bigger – that’s the way the tournament is. I can take a lot of confidence and belief from the way I’ve played the first two games. I’ve really enjoyed them and felt that I’ve been playing some of my best rugby as well.
“I like to think that I can be quite an unpredictable player. The key to that is just playing what I see in front of me and not thinking about things too much.
“When I’m at my best, I’m just reacting instinctively and that way it’s harder for the opposition to defend. If the guy with the ball doesn’t necessarily know what he’s doing, they won’t either.”