Gloucester Rugby: Olly Morgan is Jonny May's guru
FULL-BACK guru Olly Morgan is masterminding Jonny May's development in Gloucester's number 15 shirt.
Accomplished Cherry and Whites full-back Morgan is expected to battle his long-term knee problem until January.
But allied to his gruelling rehabilitation sessions, the 25-year-old has been hard at work helping to shape raw speed merchant May's full-back positional sense.
Quicksilver speed king May has shot to prominence at centre and wing for the Kingsholm men, but now deputises for Morgan on a regular basis.
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Swindon-born May is yet to nail down a first-choice position – and he asserted he is only keeping the 15 jersey warm until Morgan finds fitness once more.
Hailing Gloucester's strength in depth, May believes Gloucester now boast the most powerful squad in his short tenure at the club.
Picking Morgan's brains on full-back technicalities, May said the rock-solid full-back will be like a new signing by the time he returns to the team in the New Year.
The 22-year-old explained: "Martyn Thomas and Rob Cook are great players, we're all quite different, and hopefully I can learn from them and help them out too.
"Olly Morgan's still there watching the sessions and he's my guru, I go to him, he's very helpful with everything.
"He's going to come back and challenge for the position again, and get back to his best, no doubt.
"And he'll be like a new player for us when he gets back. It's not my position set in stone, I'm just keeping the shirt warm for Olly while he's recovering from injury, that's what I keep telling him.
"Everyone's trying to better each other at the moment, and this is the strongest squad in depth that I've been a part of.
"When I was growing up through the Academy, Gloucester had a massive squad and loads of superstars.
"We haven't necessarily got the superstars now, but we've got a lot of very good players, who can come in, step up and produce the goods.
"You saw the evidence of that in Monday's 82-0 A League victory at Worcester: I've never seen anything like that from a Gloucester United side before.
"We've got two full teams going against each other in training this year, and that definitely pays off."
May might be relishing his full-back challenge, but he admitted watching the game unfold from the back of Gloucester's attacking line can be as frustrating as it is rewarding.
Relieved the Cherry and Whites are creating chances, May said Gloucester must sharpen up on the front foot after last week's 24-19 Northampton defeat in order to win at London Irish tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).
He continued: "I can see from full-back that we're creating opportunities and chances.
"It shows we were improving and finding our shape as the Saints game went on, so if we can build on how we finished, add some accuracy, then hopefully we'll be in good shape.
"Taking the right option is vital, and if we do that it will come, because we are creating space and we'll exploit that space if we execute better.
"You can see gaps opening up, and they can literally be taken away by one move, or the opposition just slowing the ball down for a split second.
"That can make the biggest difference.
"It got frustrating last week because there were opportunities, and we didn't take them.
"But at least we're creating space, so now it's just a matter of being patient really and making sure we take the chances when they come."
Appreciating the need to mature as he sets about building on last term's breakthrough campaign, May said there was more than just growing up attached to a summer haircut.
Last season the quick-footed wide man cultivated a rat's tail that at one stage threatened to skirt around his shoulders, let alone drape down the back of his neck.
Always intending to lop off the offending accessory at some point, May said he delayed the inevitable as long as possible – to wind up his more established team-mates.
He added: "The reason with the rat's tail was I never thought it was going to get that long in the first place – I was assuming someone was going to cut it off.
"It had to come off at some stage, it was getting really long.
"So in the summer on a hot day I just shaved my head, and that was that.
"I only started growing it in the first place, literally just to wind up the older players, because they all thought it was ridiculous.
"Before that one, there was another little one, and that got cut off, but nobody really knew about that.
"So after that I thought I would grow a really long one, just to wind them up.
"But I was always having to watch my back, because I kept thinking someone would try to cut it off."