Jonny May and Louis Rees-Zammit, the Gloucester wingers who both scored memorable tries in last weekend’s Six Nations, are expected to be marking each other at the Principality Stadium next Saturday – but it may not happen.
May was picked on England’s left wing and Rees-Zammit on Wales’s right when the sides met in Llanelli three months ago but the clubmates ended up on the opposite sides of the field. When the match started, Josh Adams swapped flanks with Rees-Zammit, whose first three international starts were on the left.
“On a good day, I can just about keep up with Louis,” says May, who started his senior career when Rees-Zammit, now 20, was eight. “He is as quick as anyone I have come across, very young with the potential to become faster. He is a raw talent with a lot of potential to get better and I try and help him at Gloucester. He just needs to keep doing what he’s doing.
“I will give him a wave when I see him, then you just crack on. It’s just another game and it’s not like it’s me and Zam; it’s England against Wales and as a team we are going out there to get better and raise the bar. I just want to be the best player that I can be.”
Eddie Jones, the England head coach, has compared May with the greats of wing wizardry David Campese and Bryan Habana, two prolific try-scorers who played well into their 30s, dedicated trainers who were intent on improving. May is 31 in April but his strike-rate of one try virtually every two Tests makes him one of the first picks for his country.
“I work as hard as I can each day, continually trying to learn and improve,” says May. “And I mean every single day to become a better player. As I have grown up I have learned about myself and the game and I have matured. The main thing now is to stick to what I do.”
England have won five of the last six tournament matches against Wales since losing to them in the 2015 World Cup at Twickenham, but victory for the home side would land the triple crown with a trip to Italy to follow. Defeat for the champions would all but end their title challenge.
“The pressure is on Wales because they want to keep winning and it is on us because we had a poor game against Scotland and after going in the right direction against Italy are in no position to take another step backwards,” says May. “We put pressure on ourselves regardless of the circumstances. It is just a shame there will be no one to watch.”