"Ladies and gents, this is the moment you've waited for..”
At least Jonny May hopes it will be when he takes on Georgia today needing a hat-trick to move second on England’s all-time try scoring list.
Twickenham chiefs have asked Eddie Jones’ players to each pick a song to be played at the empty stadium to help create an atmosphere on the opening weekend of the Autumn Nations Cup.
The Gloucester wing, who has plundered 18 of his 29 tries on home turf, asked for the theme from The Greatest Showman .
The feelgood tune chimes with England’s repeatedly stated desire to put a smile on the face of a nation weighed down by Covid concerns.
May hopes it will also spark an end to his barren four-Test try-less run, which dates back to February, but says gone are the days when he measured his performance purely by tries.
“Of course I’m aware I haven’t scored since Paris, when you’re a winger you’re under pressure to score tries, people expect it,” he said.
“But you can have a very good game without scoring a try. My mindset is just to focus on my basics.
“If the opportunities come, brilliant. That’s my job to take them. But if they don’t, tries are like buses, they’ll come and go."
England have played Georgia twice before, both in World Cups. In 2003 they scored 12 tries in an 84-6 rout, in 2011 they bagged six in a 41-10 win.
May admits that history breeds an expectation which England need to be wary of as this fixture is potentially a ‘banana skin’.
“People are talking about tries but what you expect the game to be like can be a trap,” he explained. “You need to go in there with a clear head and play the game for what it is.
“It is a case of not slipping into the trap and forcing things, getting frustrated or going off script.
“The challenge is the expectation. How can we still play our game, play the moment and be the best we can be when we are expected to score tries and win well.”
The tournament has suffered a major setback with the cancellation of tomorrow’s eagerly-awaited France-Fiji clash due to coronavirus in the Islanders’ camp.
ENGLAND: Daly; Joseph, Lawrence, Slade, May; Farrell (capt), Youngs; Genge, George, Stuart, Launchbury, Ewels, Itoje, Willis, B Vunipola.
Replacements: Dunn, M Vunipola, Sinckler, Earl, Curry, Robson, Malins, Marchant.
GEORGIA: Khmaladze; Tabutsadze, Kveseladze, Sharikadze (capt), Svanidze; Abzhandadze, Aprasidze; Nariashvili, Mamukashvili, Gigashvili, Jaiani, Kerdikoshvili, Saginadze, Tkhilaishvili, Gorgadze.
Replacements: Bregvadze, Gogichashvili, Kaulashvili, Giorgadze, Jalaghonia, Lobzhanidze, Tapladze, Todua.
ENGLAND’S ALL-TIME TOP TRY SCORERS
49 – Rory Underwood
31 – Will Greenwood
31 – Ben Cohen
30 – Jeremy Guscott
29 – Jonny May
Troubled Leicester Tigers have parted company with club legend Geordan Murphy – leaving Steve Borthwick in sole charge. Murphy had been at the club for 23 years as player, head coach and latterly director of rugby. He leaves after being told his contract would not be renewed. Tigers have no plans to replace him.
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