Oita: Jonny May will win his 50th cap when England play Australia in Saturday’s quarter-final, but things might have turned out differently on the last weekend of the team’s tour of Argentina in 2013.
With the British and Irish Lions touring New Zealand, then-coach Stuart Lancaster had taken an experimental squad to South America. The uncapped May was overlooked for the first two Tests and then failed to make the cut again for the third.
Disappointed and a little embarrassed, as he had invited his parents out to watch him play, he went for dinner with them the night before the final match.
“Then Christian Wade got called up for the Lions on the morning of the game,” May told journalists on Wednesday, explaining how he had become the last winger standing.
All other players not involved in the match day had been out partying, so May got his lucky shot.
“Funny how it works out — I ended up starting, so a challenging week finished on a good note,” he said.
England won the game handsomely and by the following year’s Six Nations, May had forced his way on to the team, Lions included.
His first try did not arrive until his eighth match but he has now notched up an impressive 25 going into what will be a proud and emotional day when he leads the team out in Oita on his 50th appearance — 49 of them as a starter.
“If you take a step back, you’d say it’s an awesome achievement, something I’m very proud of and that’s hopefully made my family proud,” May said.
“But it’s no time to take a step back at the moment, so I’ll be just focusing on how I can contribute to the team performance.”