England wing Jonny May is expecting more blows to torment his battered nose in tomorrow’s Calcutta Cup clash with Scotland.
May will take his place on the left wing of an unchanged starting XV after being given the all-clear to play at Murrayfield despite incurring a undisplaced fracture to his nose against France. The Gloucester rookie lasted only eight minutes of the 26-24 RBS Six Nations defeat in Paris after colliding with the knee of team-mate Mike Brown. Withdrawn from the Stade de France game as a precautionary measure, a specialist subsequently cleared him for the trip to Edinburgh, where he is expecting a recurring problem to strike once again.
“I’ve broken my nose in the past and I’ve had a few knocks on it recently. It was waiting to go almost,” May said. “I’ll probably get a smack on the nose early in the Scotland game, but it’s sore most of the time anyway. It gets hit in most games! If that happens it might bleed, in which case I’ll go off and get it treated and go straight back on if I can. At least we’re aware of what it is this time. I’m not worried about it.”
May has ruled out the need to wear a protective face mask at Murrayfield and, despite the brief duration of his second cap, he enjoyed every second of it. “I wasn’t fazed by the occasion and was relishing the environment,” the 23-year-old said. “There was no point getting down in the dumps about the nose when I didn’t know what the situation was. Luckily enough there was a positive outcome. It wasn’t particularly painful at the time, it’s just that there was so much blood and the doctor wasn’t too sure of what it was. In terms of trying to protect me he made the decision that I wouldn’t go back on because he was worried that I might have fractured my cheekbone or eye socket.”
It is the first time in Stuart Lancaster’s two-year reign as England head coach that the same starting XV has been retained for successive matches. England were crushed by their late defeat at the Stade de France, but have been consoled by a spirited performance full of attacking intent that was worthy of a different outcome.
“We want the team to build on the display against France and use that defeat as motivation,” Lancaster said. “It’s a second chance for this team. Having reviewed the game there were a lot more ups than downs. We have to trust the players to get the win this time.”
Edinburgh was where Lancaster’s England stewardship began two years ago, with a 13-6 victory at Murrayfield, the first act of successive runners-up finishes in the Six Nations.
As interim head coach little was expected from Lancaster or a team hastily rebuilt after the 2011 World Cup had destroyed reputations on and off the pitch. Now England head to Scotland as strong favourites intent on reviving their title aspirations and Lancaster understands that the criteria on which he is judged has changed. “Expectations are different, there’s no doubt about it,” he said. “But, if you want to be a successful team, you look at the All Blacks. They deal with expectation and embrace it. They thrive on it. Going to Edinburgh does feel different now, but it’s still exciting in the same way. I still believe 100 per cent in the direction we’re going.”
England team: M Brown (Harlequins); J Nowell (Exeter), L Burrell (Northampton), B Twelvetrees (Gloucester), J May (Gloucester); O Farrell (Saracens), D Care (Harlequins); J Marler (Harlequins), D Hartley (Northampton), D Cole (Leicester), J Launchbury (Wasps), C Lawes (Northampton), T Wood (Northampton), C Robshaw (Harlequins), B Vunipola (Saracens). Subs: T Youngs (Leicester), M Vunipola (Saracens), H Thomas (Sale), D Attwood (Bath), B Morgan (Gloucester), L Dickson (Northampton), B Barritt (Saracens), A Goode (Saracens).