May hopes it’s third time lucky for McConnochie

The wing has missed his England debut twice due to injuries.

By Press Association Published: 3 September 2019 - 9.00pm


Rugby Union

Jonny May hopes England room-mate Ruaridh McConnochie avoids any fresh mishaps that will deny him a third opportunity to make his Test debut.

Hip and hamstring injuries saw McConnochie withdrawn from the starting XV on the eve of the home and away World Cup warm-up Test against Wales last month, but the Bath wing is poised to feature against Italy in Newcastle on Friday.

Eddie Jones will announce his team for the final match of the build-up to Japan 2019 on Wednesday morning and is also expected to name Anthony Watson at full-back.

England Training and Press Conference
England’s Ruaridh McConnochie could make his debut on Friday (Ben Birchall/PA)

Occupying the opposite wing to sevens specialist McConnochie, who won a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics, will be the player with whom he has been rooming in camp.

May said: “It’s been tough for Ruaridh. He was upset on the Fridays before we played Wales. Other than that he’s just got on with it.

“The people around you have an influence on you so for him not to mope around is a credit to him.

“That’s probably one of the reasons Eddie likes him. Even if he’s not playing, he’s still adding to the group.

“I’m really excited for him to get out on the pitch. It must have been difficult for him but he’s ready. Once he gets out on the pitch he’ll do what he does.

“He’s fit and he’s strong. Maybe that’s a sevens thing or maybe that’s just him. We haven’t done much contact stuff here but he breaks tackles because he’s used to those one-on-ones.

“I’ve told him to ‘look after yourself, be smart, don’t push it’. If we wants a chat before the game then I’ll help him the best I can. He’s here for a reason.

“He’s had a brilliant season with Bath, got experience at an Olympic Games and he’s a really great guy. He’s going to do well.”

England Training Session – Pennyhill Park
Anthony Watson will return at full-back against Italy (Adam Davy/PA)

Elliot Daly has been an ever-present at full-back since last summer’s tour to South Africa but having started all three warm-up matches he is due a rest, opening the door for Watson to make his fourth appearance in the position.

An Achilles injury that ruled him out of England contention for 17 months finally cleared up in time for the double header against Wales.

“Anthony is looking really good off the back of a long, long injury. He’s potentially at full-back so I’m really excited for him,” May said.

“We train together all the time. All the back three meetings are always together. No matter who is playing, we’ll always stick to the same framework.

“Of course each individual’s different so it’s about reacting to the guys around you.”

Henry Slade faces the prospect of entering the World Cup without any game time in the bank after failing to train fully at England’s camp in Treviso on Tuesday.

The Exeter outside centre has been troubled by a knee injury that forced him to sit out both games against Wales and the rout of Ireland.

He took ownership of the number 13 jersey during last summer’s tour to South Africa and has been first choice since until injury struck.