Jonny May is viewed by England team-mate Ben Youngs as the deadliest wing in the world who shows flashes of Forrest Gump.
The Leicester duo are plotting the downfall of Wales in Saturday’s seismic Guinness Six Nations title clash with May’s speed and finishing instincts sure to be central in Eddie Jones’ gameplan.
The 28-year-old has plundered 12 tries in as many Tests including a devastating hat-trick against France in round two to emerge as a superstar of the game.
“Jonny’s been phenomenal the last 12 months, if not longer,” Youngs said of his Leicester colleague.
“He’s certainly the in-form winger in the world and perhaps the best winger in the world at the moment.
“The threat Jonny poses is out-and-out pace and that’s incredibly hard to deal with. You’re not going to win a foot race against him.
“When someone is as quick as him you know that when the ball is put in behind you, he’s going to be there.
“He suddenly appears, a bit like Forrest Gump on that kick return in the movie where he gets given the ball and he just goes!”
By his own admission, May is “a bit different to most of the others” in a team now rated as favourites to relieve Ireland of their Six Nations crown.
England scrum-half Danny Care recently claimed that he “used to think he was possessed by a chicken!”
Care added: “He used to go around clucking and thought this chicken demon was inside him. I don’t know whether it was an act or true – with Jonny you just never know!”
For all the entertainment provided by England’s sharpest attacking weapon, May insists the blistering form that began during the 2018 summer tour to South Africa is the product of years of toil on the practise field.
“Do you think I was possessed by a chicken? It’s a bit silly isn’t it? I don’t think at any stage that has happened,” he said.
“What’s been a little bit funny to me is that everyone’s now saying ‘wow’ whereas I feel it hasn’t happened overnight.
“I feel like I’ve been working hard over a long period of time. You’ve got to stick at it and keep working hard.
“People might suddenly start taking notice but that’s not going to make me think anything different other than ‘I want to keep doing what I’m doing’.
“I am a much different player to what I was and I am proud of where I am and where I have come from when you think about my first 10 games.
“I have scored a lot in my last 12 – more than in my first 30 – is that luck or a coincidence? Maybe it is, but I know my game is better now and the tries come with that.”
May is aware that his profile has rocketed, but takes a level-headed approach to the mass of plaudits that have descended upon him.
“I try to avoid it as much as I can, that is my first strategy, but it’s hard,” May said.
“Without knowing, your sister sends you a silly interview of something. Or you pick up a paper or flick on your Instagram. It is hard to escape it all.
“Although it’s nice, it’s irrelevant. I am not the sort of guy to get distracted by that, or think I’ve made it.
“Whether it is good or bad you have got to stick to your plan and keeping working hard. That is what I have been doing.”
England have confirmed that Maro Itoje will miss the game because of knee ligament damage.
Itoje sustained the injury in the opening weekend victory over Ireland and missed the rout of France a week later amid a prognosis that the Saracens lock would return for the later rounds of the Championship.
Forwards coach Steve Borthwick said: “Maro is continuing his rehabilitation on a daily basis. He will not be available for Saturday’s game. He’s going well, just not quite well enough for this weekend.”
Joe Cokanasiga has moved a step closer to securing a role at the Principality Stadium after being retained in a 25-man squad that will step up preparations for the Wales appointment.
Cokanasiga made a try-scoring comeback for Bath on Saturday after two months out with a knee injury and his power out wide could secure him a place on the bench.