Jones has shown ruth­less side to get me up to speed, re­veals rocket man May

Winger puts try-scor­ing ex­ploits down to coach with man-man­age­ment skills as well as charisma

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby World Cup - PAUL HAYWARD SPORTS WRITER OF THE YEAR, IN TOKYO

With re­spect to Luke Cowandicki­e – Eng­land’s lead­ing try-scorer at this World Cup – the real threat to France is a light­ning winger who says he is “ready to go off like a rocket at the week­end”.

Jonny May is the No1 try-scorer in Test rugby since 2018, but is cur­rently de­fer­ring at the team ho­tel to a bearded hooker who would have be­come a trawlerman had the front row not lured him in. Cowan-dickie has three tries in as many matches but will prob­a­bly find May pass­ing his trawler in a speed boat.

May, who is built like a track and field star and runs like one, too, says: “I’m ac­tu­ally gen­uinely over the moon for Dickie. It feels like he can do what he wants here [in the ho­tel] when he’s scor­ing tries. He can walk around the place with a big grin on his face.

“He’s on top of the world at the minute. He’s a great guy to have around the squad. When he’s com­ing off the bench, I keep telling him he’s go­ing to score and he keeps scor­ing.”

May finds him­self say­ing to Cowan-dickie “keep do­ing that, mate” and “pat­ting him on the head”.

But Eng­land’s No11 has his own stats to pro­tect and Ed­die Jones to thank, he says, for max­imis­ing the team’s chances in Ja­pan.

“He’s not like a dad or a teacher,” May said in re­sponse to a ques­tioner who used those words. “He just knows how to run a pro­gramme. He drives hard stan­dards but he’s charis­matic. He’s got a per­son­al­ity. He’s got a ruth­less­ness about him. He’s very dif­fer­ent to any­one I’ve worked with.

“You guys will have spo­ken to him enough to know he’s a pretty one-off char­ac­ter. But we all have be­lief in the pro­gramme he’s run­ning, with the ex­pe­ri­ence he has. We wouldn’t want any­one else tak­ing us through this jour­ney that we’re on. He’s been there and he’s done it and we buy into ev­ery­thing he wants us to do.”

With 25 in­ter­na­tional tries, May is a pre­cious com­mod­ity who cred­its Eng­land’s coach with un­der­stand­ing in­di­vid­ual needs. “Ed­die has pushed me, cer­tainly. I have al­ways pushed my­self hard but he def­i­nitely has pushed me. As soon as you ar­rive at some point, he is on to the next thing that you’ve got to work on.

“There have been so many themes I’ve gone through with him, in terms of work­ing off my wing, edge de­fence, high-ball work, back-three work – and then as soon as you’ve made progress with one, it’s on to an­other, or, ‘Do that even bet­ter’, or ‘Get faster’ or this or that.

“That’s the way he is and that, along­side be­ing in a squad full of such tal­ent, has def­i­nitely brought out the best in me and a lot of other peo­ple in the team.”

This out­pour­ing of grat­i­tude did not sound scripted. And though May is in the end a lone hunter, a fin­isher, he needs help.

“Ed­die has man­aged me well. There are times I’ll get more, times I’ll get less. Ed­die, to be fair, has a good un­der­stand­ing of what each in­di­vid­ual needs. Manu [Tuilagi] for in­stance, they’ve cer­tainly man­aged him, the way he’s mov­ing and play­ing, he’s been man­aged dif­fer­ently. They’ve done a great job with me. Ev­ery time I’m out there on the pitch I’m ready to go ‘off ’ – and that’s ex­actly how I want to feel.”

He means “off ” like a rocket, not off the field for a rest. May wants to play against France, even though Eng­land are al­ready through to the last eight: “Some games, I haven’t played, in the warm-up and against USA.

“Of course I’d rather be start­ing, but as soon as that de­ci­sion is made – it’s like the ref­eree, his de­ci­sion

‘Ed­die has a good un­der­stand­ing of in­di­vid­ual play­ers – on pitch I’m ready to go off ev­ery time’

has been made, get on with your job.”

May is a try junkie. “It’s a spe­cial feel­ing and for me it’s a re­lease of some­thing,” he says. “But it’s also just a mo­ment in time and then it’s back to work. Of course, scor­ing for Eng­land, in a World Cup – any time you play for Eng­land is awe­some, any­time you score for Eng­land is awe­some. But there are also more im­por­tant things.

“It’s not dif­fi­cult for me getting up for Eng­land. You feel it build­ing all week and at the mo­ment I feel we have done so much train­ing that you do feel ready to go off like a rocket at the week­end.”

The last time May faced France, in this year’s Six Na­tions, he scored a 29-minute hat-trick in a 44-8 win. “We came out all guns blaz­ing in that game, and we got off to a great start and were pretty bru­tal,” he says. “France have made a lot of progress since we played them last and they’re play­ing some good rugby, so who knows what the game is go­ing to be like.

“France want an un­struc­tured game, they want to play off­loads, they want to ex­press them­selves, they want to play fast and flat rugby, which they are very good at. We ob­vi­ously want to try and con­tain that and stop them play­ing the way they want to play. But we also want to im­pose our­selves on France as well.”

May gave an in­sight into the in­ten­sity of Eng­land’s fo­cus. Mark Wil­son was 30 on Sun­day but is un­likely to re­mem­ber the party. “The chef makes a cake, we sing a song,” May says. “That’s pretty much what hap­pens when it’s some­body’s birth­day. Like I said, these things hap­pen, but we’re so ‘on’ what we’re do­ing at the mo­ment that we’re not go­ing to make too many changes just be­cause it’s a birth­day. We no­tice these things and make a cake. That’s about it.”

Ac­tion man: Eng­land’s Jonny May on the charge against Ar­gentina

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