Jonny May has travelled a long way, both in the last 24 hours and the last two years.
While his Moseley team-mates prepare themselves for Friday night in Port Talbot, the young centre will today jet out to Venice with the rest of Mark Mapletoft’s England Under 20 squad.
As those he leaves behind ponder the wonders of the British & Irish Cup and the multitudinous attractions of Aberavon, May and the rest of the Red Rose wunderkinder will apply themselves to a brief team-run before strolling around the city dubbed the Queen of the Adriatic.
And while Ian Smith’s men spend 80 minutes in the company of the Wizards before heading back up the M4, M50 and M5, England’s finest will take on their Italian counterparts at the Stadio Comunale. After that May expects a few more hours free time.
Apparently St Mark’s is a picture when its lit up.
“It literally is a case of pinching myself,” the 19-year-old said. “Two years ago I wasn’t even going to be part of the Academy Gold squad and here I am now playing for my country and on the brink of signing a two-year deal with Gloucester.”
It is that clear cut. Unlike most of his contemporaries the talented May has not glided through representative age groups the way he goes through a gap in a defence.
As a youngster growing up in Wiltshire, he didn’t even make it into the county set-up. At one trial he sat unused on the replacements bench. “I used to play a bit at Wootton Bassett but that was it.”
Then at 16 he made the decisive move to Hartpury College, the educational institution where anyone with aspirations at Kingsholm spends time.
It was at that stage that Chris Dewsnap, then junior academy manager, spotted his potential. The pace and the power were obvious but May needed intensive work on his skills. He was given just that.
By the start of last season he was considered ready to come off the bench for the Cherry and Whites in a Heineken Cup match against Dragons and he went on to become a crucial cog in Allan Lewis’ all-conquering first team.
And as Moseley were stepping on to the Twickenham turf to face Leeds in the National Trophy final at the end of last term, May was skipping off it having inspired Hartpury to a third consecutive cup win with a mesmerising hat-trick to his name.
At Gloucester he was considered Henry Trinder’s rival as the next best thing since sliced defences, while at Moseley, at least to those who caught the end of the Intermediate Cup triumph, he was viewed as the new Jack Adams. No pressure then.
Most of those observers would describe May’s attempts at filling the outside berth as little more than a qualified success. There have been dazzling individual tries, such as the two occasions, home and away, when he knifed through Coventry apparently at will.
But there have also been more than a few missed tackles and the Nottingham game, when he totally misjudged Tristan Roberts’ cross kick and allowed a crucial score to go begging and then flopped off Billy Twelvetrees like a limp wrist, sticks out in everyone’s mind. Even his.
But his critics must remember how far May has come. This is his first season in senior rugby and at his age he has probably not even stopped growing. There should be some leeway.
“I was actually scared about coming up to Moseley,” he admits. “It’s all happened so quick, a year before I was on the Hartpury bench.
“I have enjoyed it at Moseley. It is great because it takes me out of my comfort zone and puts me in a harsh environment where I have got to learn my lessons quickly. There have been mistakes but I’ve tried not to get too down on them, all you can do is make sure you learn.
“Every win has been massive for us, the away result against Plymouth was superb as was the build up to the Coventry match on Boxing Day. They had us in every day that week even on the snow, when we left the club on Christmas Eve it wasn’t even clear that the match would go ahead.
“So to win that one was a fantastic achievement.”
His displays since have been up and down, not helped by the fact that at the back of his mind was his first involvement with a national squad.
May’s last Moseley appearance – against Bees three weeks ago, was compromised by the fact he had played 40 minutes of the Under 20’s warm-up match against Cambridge just a few days before.
He scored two tries in that match and then came off the bench against Wales last Friday to score another.
He gets his first start in Venice this evening.
“Playing against Wales was great fun. It made a change to get some good quick front foot ball. That hasn’t always been the case this season, we’ve been underdogs in a lot of matches. So to have space in front of me and the confidence to go for it has come at the perfect time.”
May should be available for the trip to Exeter on Saturday week before rehelping England complete the Six Nations campaign, which even a few months ago is not a sentence that has ever been written about this gifted, if raw, midfield prospect.