Nick Cain talks to England wing supreme Jonny May on preparations for Japan and how the backline is shaping up.
… If his reign as England’s speed king is in jeopardy from his back three mates
They are all quick. I know I’ve got to keep on top of it and keep grinding away because they are all incredibly fast athletes.
… How competitive backs training has been since the squad assembled
Being around great players brings out the best in you, but when you do the shuttles, or anything, you help each other along – and that’s the way it’s got to be. We talk about getting the right balance between competitiveness and companionship. You need that. Of course we’re all fighting for the same spot, but if we’re going to win the World Cup we need to be tight. The faces here are familiar, people I’ve spent a lot of time with, and we’re used to being around each other, and we are good mates, so we just want to make the best of our chance.
… His personal training regime before coming into camp
I kept going and made sure that I was ready to come in, because this was at the forefront of my mind.
… Whether the Aussie coaching influence is big where the high ball is concerned
It’s a bit of both, in that us as players have recognised it, and the coaches are constantly on to us to get better. It’s just like defences used to be so soft, and now they’re off the line so fast.
… How many decisions are made on-field, and how many come from Eddie Jones’ dug-out
I’d say the majority are made on the field. We have experienced guys like Ben Youngs, George Ford, Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje, and there’s an experienced head for each department of the game. They are a great leadership group that is evolving all the time, and they are working really hard here to make sure they know the game inside out – but of course we get help from the coaches at half-time, and running messages on here and there.
… Being vocal if you feel something needs changing
I feed mainly into Elliot (Daly), because he leads our back three, and they trust what I say. We do have a good balance between those who want to work hard and follow, and people who want to lead, and you need both of those.
… How hard it is to get teams to peak at exactly the right time?
You’ve got to put faith in the programme in terms of what we do, when we do it, and how hard we are training, and it’s difficult. However, I have complete faith in the coaching, the medical, and the strength and conditioning staff.
… Strong differences and mindset in 2019 to that in 2015?
Of course it is. I’m four years older, I’ve learned a lot, and matured a lot – and a lot of the guys who are still here are in the same boat as me. It’s such a long time ago, it’s incomparable.
… If it is a different training regime to the 2015 World Cup
Yes, everything is different. We have got some similar players, but they’ve all changed and developed, we’ve got new players and new coaches, and it’s a different World Cup in a different country.
…Whether, as a finisher, he has a golden rule?
Not really. I want to be in the moment, commit to that, and be decisive, that’s all I can ask for.
… Why he doesn’t overload when studying opponents
I’ll do the necessary amount, but I don’t like to overload – I want to play my game, and be instinctive. I don’t want to be too robotic.
… England camp compared to the Michael Johnson centre in the USA last summer
The Michael Johnson centre was off-season training, and it allows you the opportunity to focus very much on what you want, but it is more structured when you come in here because here you are told how they want you to train. There are similarities in terms of the emphasis on high-speed running, which is good because I enjoy that training, and it is going well. We are training hard, but appropriately hard, because we want to make sure we don’t peak too soon.
… Meeting Michael Johnson
He came in one day, but I didn’t actually meet him – although I did meet him in 2014, when he came to Pennyhill. I got to have a little bit of a chat with him, and I wanted to take the opportunity because he’s a legend – a star.
NICK CAIN / Photos: Getty Images
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