Jonny May insists attempting to predict Eddie Jones’ selection plans is futile as England’s head coach prepares to announce his World Cup squad.
Almost a month before World Rugby’s official deadline, Jones will unveil the 31 players who will travel to Japan in the hope of emulating the success of Martin Johnson’s 2003 global champions.
Leicester wing May is a certainty for inclusion but, as an ever-present under Jones since his appointment in 2015, he has learned that untangling the wily Australian’s squad permutations is a route to insomnia.
“I’ve been here for a few years now and the worst trap you can fall into is trying to second-guess what Eddie’s thinking,” said May.
“That will definitely keep you up at night and you’ll certainly never get it right, either. Just get on with it.
“Trust what he’s doing. Focus on yourself.”
I’ve been here for a few years now and the worst trap you can fall into is trying to second-guess what Eddie’s thinking.Jonny May
Yesterday’s opening warm-up win over Wales will have served as a distraction, but even the line-up for that will have set minds racing.
“If he picks you this weekend, it could be the best or the worst thing. It’s uncomfortable, but that’s the nature of our job,” said May, who was overlooked for the clash with the Grand Slam champions.
Jones’ decision to announce his World Cup squad far in advance of the deadline and before all his rivals except France is curious, but the break with convention is welcomed by players.
Four years ago, under Stuart Lancaster, selection went down to the wire, with the choice between rugby league convert Sam Burgess and the more established Luther Burrell for the final midfield slot disturbing squad harmony as England 2015 fast approached.
“I can only speak from previous experiences, but I believe that naming the squad early is definitely the right thing,” veteran scrum-half Ben Youngs said.
“The earlier you name it, the more you can tighten up as a group and continue to work, so for me it makes perfect sense. It’s hugely beneficial for us as a squad to know that, from past experiences.
“You want to know and the longer you leave it the more the elephant in the room appears.”