Rugby Union

Six Nations: England’s Jonny May says ‘brilliant’ Joe Cokanasiga ‘will only get better’

Cokanasiga, 21, has four England caps
Six Nations 2019: England v Scotland
Venue: Twickenham Date: Saturday, 16 March Kick-off: 17:00 GMT
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio Scotland, plus live text commentary on BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app

England’s Jonny May has hailed the impact of Joe Cokanasiga after his fellow winger’s display against Italy.

The 21-year-old impressed with his power and pace on his first Six Nations start as England ran in eight tries at Twickenham on Saturday.

“I haven’t played with a winger like him before – he’s got so much talent and so much potential,” May said.

“He’s brilliant now and he’s only going to get better. I’m pleased that we’ve got him.”

May added on BBC Radio 5 Live: “It’s brilliant for the team and it’s brilliant for me, because being around a player like Joe makes you better.”

Cokanasiga scored a try on his first England start last autumn against Japan and then again the following week against Australia.

Along with Manu Tuilagi he lit up Twickenham at the weekend, his one-handed ball-carrying, explosive speed and line-up play with full-back Elliot Daly catching the eye as he looks to book a place in England’s World Cup squad.

“When I see him carrying it one-handed I think, I’m not going to try that, but I think too it shows confidence,” added May. “It shows he’s a 21-year-old guy out there who’s out there on the pitch expressing himself.

“That’s good for him because that’s his game. That’s the way you’ve got to be at international level – play your way.

“Joe’s actually quite a quiet guy around the camp, but he’s starting to open up.

“I get on with him well – I play pool with him, we have a game of killer at basketball. He’s definitely confident. Just because he’s quiet doesn’t mean he isn’t confident in what he can do.

“Each player within our back three has their own strengths and their own game, and there’s a huge level of respect between each and every one of us.

“The better each of us plays, the higher the standard goes. It’s great for the team and great for the individual.”

England meet Scotland at Twickenham on Saturday needing a win and a Welsh loss to Ireland earlier in the afternoon to secure their first Six Nations title since 2017.

But May says the team’s attention will not be on Cardiff despite the implications of that game on their own hopes.

England have won three out of four games in the 2019 Six Nations

“For me it’s not about winning the Six Nations,” he said. “There’s a bigger purpose to what we’re doing here, and that’s the World Cup.

“We can go away feeling good about ourselves in this campaign regardless of whether we win the championship or not. If we put down the performance we want against Scotland we can feel good about ourselves.

“Honestly, it could go either way. When we talked about Wales’ last two games being Scotland away and Ireland at home we thought they could as easily lose two as win two.

“Before our team meeting the first match is usually on the TV, and you might catch the first 10 minutes. After that I’ll flip my phone onto airplane mode and start focusing on what I need to do and what the team needs to do.

“Everyone will be different. On the bus on the way to the ground some will be refreshing their phones to see what the score is, some boys won’t even have watched the start of the game.

“The main thing is doing what’s right for you. We need to get our best performance out regardless of what happens in Cardiff.”

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