It’s been quite a start to 2015 for Jonny May, who racked up his 100th appearance for Gloucester Rugby before being named in Stuart Lancaster’s England team for this Friday’s RBS 6 Nations opener in Cardiff.
But the 24-year-old winger, who appeared in all five games of his Six Nations debut last year, believes his current success can be traced back to the 2011/2012 season and a campaign in which he was named as the inaugural winner of the LV= Breakthrough Player Award.
The six-strong shortlist included fly-half George Ford and centre Jonathan Joseph – both of whom will join May on the pitch at the Millennium Stadium – as well as Gloucester teammate Matt Kvesic and Welshmen Liam Williams and Matthew Morgan.
And with the all six having claimed international caps since their nomination, May is in no doubt as to the importance of the LV= Cup competition in helping to unearth and develop the talent in England and Wales.
"For me personally, without the LV= Cup I wouldn't have got as many opportunities to show what I could do and I don't think I would have got where I am now, playing for Gloucester and England, as quickly as I have," he said.
"I'm really proud of winning the award. The LV= Cup gave me an opportunity to play in the first team and show what I could do.
"With people like Jack Nowell and Ollie Devoto winning it in recent years, you can see the strong calibre of players that are emerging in the competition.
"You look back at the people I was up against when I won the award, you had the likes of Jonathan Joseph, George Ford, Matt Kvesic.
"We have all gone on to be capped by England and it shows we have taken the chances that have come out way following on from playing in the LV= Cup.
"It was a proud moment to make 100 appearances for Gloucester and I was really happy to sign a new contract last year. It's an exciting time for both Gloucester and England."
May was unable to make it a double success in the LV= Cup in 2012 as holders Gloucester failed to make it out of the pool stage.
Next weekend sees the culmination of this season's pool stages and May insists the benefits of the
competition are still plain to see at his club.
"At Gloucester at the moment, we've got the likes of Henry Purdy and Callum Braley who have been showing what they are all about," he added.
"It is the chance for so many players to get involved in the team for the first time. It's a chance to win silverware too and that is a huge incentive.
"Coaches and players can try out a variety of new things and it is a really good learning experience for the players involved who can go out and prove themselves.
"You can really build from getting games in the LV= Cup and put your name out there."
The LV= Breakthrough Player Award is designed to recognise the next generation of young players. Vote for your LV= Breakthrough Player at LV.com/rugby from Thursday 12 February