BLINK and you’ve missed Jonny May – but former England wing Mark Cueto believes the Gloucester speedster is no flash in the pan as far as his Red Rose future is concerned.
May’s Six Nations debut in France earlier this year ended almost as soon as it had begun, friendly fire from Mike Brown’s knee breaking his nose just six minutes into the game.
Patched up a week later for Scotland, he started to show the type of effervescence regularly on display for the Cherry & Whites – a fleet-footed runner with an uncommon turn of pace.
The campaign came and went without a score for the 24-year-old, little his own doing with space down the left at a premium, though a try against Ireland would have been his if not for a rare fumble.
But five starts out of five suggests Stuart Lancaster has taken a shine to Gloucester’s bullet as a three-Test tour to New Zealand looms in June.
And Cueto, who was capped 55 times for England, believes May has the game-changing ability to thrive on the international stage.
“He’s that out-and-out flyer,” said Cueto. “We talk about different types of wingers and there’s not many guys quicker than him in the Premiership, if in the world.
“I’d put money on him being in the top two, three quickest players in the Premiership without a doubt.
“And when you’ve got a guy like that in your team, you know there’s always a threat.
“He maybe didn’t get as much of the ball, or as much ball in space, as he’d have liked at the Six Nations.
“But I thought he did alright, he looks to get involved and get his hand on the ball.”
Still going strong with Sale Sharks at 34, Cueto never had the afterburners that May possesses.
That has never been a black mark against his name, testified by his record 86 tries in the Aviva Premiership over a 13-year career to date.
But as May searches for his first score with England, Cueto has urged him to make the most of every international minute before worrying about statistics.
“His carries were quite high in all the games so he’ll be looking just to add game time to his international career at this point,” added Cueto, who scored 20 international tries.
“Because whether you’ve got ten caps or 50 caps, you’re always looking over your shoulder for someone to take your position – probably more so at that age.”
Mark Cueto was speaking at the launch of the Aviva Premiership Rugby Policy. Sign up for exclusive access to interviews and competitions at premiershiprugby.com/avivarugbypolicy