Leicester Tigers wing Jonny May says his England side will settle for nothing less than top spot at what promises to be the most competitive Rugby World Cup ever.
The 29-year-old is one of six Tigers players in Eddie Jones’ 31-man squad set to start their Cup campaign in Sapporo against Tonga this Sunday, September 22.
“For me the belief is genuine that we can beat anybody if we are at our best, and I genuinely believe we are going to peak at this World Cup,” he told EnglandRugby.com.
“I genuinely can’t talk up my team mates enough. We have players who can take the ball to the line and make decisions, we have players who can run over people, we have players with speed, [and] we have left foot options.
“We really have got lots of brilliant players, lots of diverse players.”
“I feel like this group of players is ready for it.”Jonny May
And while May will be heading to his second Rugby World Cup – after featuring in three of England’s four games in 2015 – he says the time has come to look beyond the accomplishment of being selected for his country.
He continued: “It is an achievement being here, but the goal is to go beyond that and we want to win it.
“Do other teams have great players? Of course they do. Are the games against other top teams going to be close? Of course they are.
“It is going to be fine margins on the day. It is a tight tournament. 100% it is a tighter tournament in terms of how competitive it is going to be than any other World Cup I’ve seen.
“So it is going to come down to who produces it on the day and who is most ready for it and certainly mentally as well who can handle it.
“It is going to be a huge test but I feel like this group of players is ready for it.”
May has 24 international tries to his name so far, and while the odds look good for him to add to his tally in Japan, he insists he does not go into a match solely looking to add to his tally.
“I think that is a terrible trap to fall in to – to go into a game wanting to score a try or trying to score a try,” he said.
“Of course scoring a try, being a winger, is the cherry on the top but like I said we have got so many good players I wouldn’t care if I don’t score a try for the tournament, we just need to win every game.
“People are going to score tries if we just stick to doing our jobs. For me I’ll go into a game focusing on my defence and kick chase and my high ball.
“Those are the things that I’m guaranteed to get in a game and if the opportunity comes to score a try, that’s my role in that moment to do that for the team.”
England’s tournament starts on Sunday, with kick-off against Tonga scheduled for 11.15am BST and live coverage provided by ITV.
Further matches against the USA (September 26, 11.45am), Argentina (October 5, 9.00am) and France (October 12, 9.15am) close out England’s Pool C fixtures.
You can join us at Welford Road to watch all of England’s Rugby World Cup matches at our FREE Kegs and Eggs events, starting this Sunday.
Catch the action on a large LED screen with surround sound at the home of the Tigers, with breakfast food and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks available.
Reserve your place at each of our Kegs and Events online, or call the Tigers ticket office on 0116 319 8888 (option 2).