BEPPU, 16 Oct - When Jonny May says he owes his parents everything for launching his England career, he really means it.

That is because history could have been very different had he turned down their dinner invitation in Buenos Aires six years ago.

The winger, 29, has scored 25 test tries, including the one above against Argentina at RWC 2019, and will earn his 50th cap against Australia in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final in Oita.

But he was an uncapped rookie when selected for England’s tour of Argentina in 2013, a year when many senior players were missing because of the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia.

"I’ll always remember (my first cap) because it didn’t really go how I’d have thought," said the Leicester winger.

"It was Lions year and I thought, 'I’m probably going to get a game'. So my mum and dad came out and I wasn’t picked for the first game, then I wasn’t picked for the second game and I just felt... I didn’t feel ashamed, but I didn’t feel great because my parents were out there and it looked like I wasn’t going to get a game."

Everything changed when Christian Wade was called up for the Lions on the morning of the second test. But still May could have missed out on his big chance had he opted to go drinking the night before instead of going for a meal with his folks.

"Because my mum and dad were out, I went out for dinner with them. All the other non-23 players went out on the piss. So (after Wade's call-up) I got the ‘go on, you can play' pretty much.

"I ended up starting that game, and what was quite a challenging couple of weeks finished on a really good note, as my parents got to watch me play and I got my first cap. It all worked out in the end."

The story is delivered with the honesty that makes May such a popular member of the squad. Beneath his engaging exterior is a world-class player whose mental and physical preparation for test rugby is second to none, and whose turbo-charged runs could be vital in the knockout stages.

Coach Eddie Jones pushes May hard because he knows the winger will listen, think about any challenge he is set, and respond in a positive way. It is why he has made 48 starts in those 49 international appearances.

May takes pride in having made the changes needed to stay in the team at a time when England have been blessed with a host of outstanding wingers, including Anthony Watson, Jack Nowell and Elliot Daly.

"If you take a step back, you'd say it's an awesome achievement, something I'm very proud of and hopefully I've made my family proud," he said. "But it's no time to take a step back. It's a huge team game at the weekend.

"It really has been a challenge. You have to fight to be a part of the squad, let alone to start. My mindset has changed so much on that, especially with Eddie (Jones) coming in. It's a squad performance. We're competing to be the best we can be, we're not competing with each other.

"I have changed a lot, not just as a rugby player but as a person. I have matured. I have become more focused, maybe a little bit more introverted as the years have gone on.

"I’m not necessarily at a stage now where I’m working harder but I'm working smarter, just to keep developing and improving."

RNS cj/icr