Jonny May’s ill-timed injury meant he had to watch from the sidelines as England claimed a first Six Nations Grand Slam in 13 years but the Gloucester Rugby star is convinced he will battle his way back into the side.
May suffered a knee ligament injury during an Aviva Premiership Rugby draw with Harlequins in December, which required surgery and ruled him out of action until the end of the season.
That meant the winger, who was at Abbeymead Primary School this week to take part in an Aviva Tackling Numbers session, missed out on the start of the Eddie Jones era as the new coach helped England clinch a first Grand Slam since 2003.
Anthony Watson and Jack Nowell were particularly impressive on the wings but May is far from the forgotten man with the 26-year-old admitting that Jones called him both before and after knee surgery to assure him he has a bright international future.
May is adamant that once fit he can dislodge Nowell or Watson for a starting berth but acknowledged that watching the Six Nations was certainly a strange experience.
“The Six Nations was a tough one for me because I was watching and wanting England to win but frustrated not to be out there,” said May, who was speaking ahead of Gloucester Rugby’s Aviva Premiership victory over Exeter Chiefs.
“But they are all mates of mine, so I’m pleased for them to bounce back after what was a tough World Cup.
“The nature of international rugby is that there are a lot of good players in every position but I believe I can get back in that team.
“It was nice because Eddie rang me before surgery and I spoke to him after surgery and he just told me to get fit and he did say he wanted me to be involved.
“That was very motivating for me because he didn’t have to ring but it was nice to hear from him.
“I just need to get my head down now, do the work and show him that I can get fit for the start of next season and put my hand up for international selection.”
Aviva Tackling Numbers is an innovative programme for 7-9 year olds which makes learning about numbers and financial education fun and engaging.
The programme is delivered by Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs and May joined Gloucester teammates Billy Burns and James Hudson at Abbeymead Primary School to take part in the session with the kids.
On the pitch, Gloucester’s season has tailed off somewhat with four Aviva Premiership losses in a row as well as a dramatic exit from the European Challenge Cup at the hands of Newport Gwent Dragons last weekend – although Friday's win over west country rivals Exeter Chiefs will have given the Kingsholm faithful something to cheer about.
May claims it has been tough to watch and believes it might be back to the drawing board over the summer.
“It’s a tough one because five weeks ago we were looking like the Gloucester we want to be – improving and competing,” added May.
“Unfortunately we’ve had a real poor drop-off since and lost some games where we have performed poorly.
“If it was easy to fix it, we would have done because we’re trying as hard as we can but something’s not right.
“It looks like we’ll have to go back to the drawing board, get everybody fit again and go again.”
May was speaking at an Aviva Tackling Numbers session. In partnership with Premiership Rugby, #AvivaTacklingNumbers helps 7-9 year olds put foundations in place for better financial skills later in life through the power of rugby. To find out more and take a maths test, visit aviva.co.uk/tacklingnumbers.