Jonny May admits that for the only time in his career he was relieved not to have been picked by England after a nasty dose of Covid reduced his Australia tour to two training sessions.
Waking up exhausted the day after arriving Down Under, the Gloucester wing tested positive and spent the next seven days in isolation where he lost almost a stone in weight and a recent knee injury swelled up alarmingly.
Only a groggy transfer from one hotel to another as England swapped the location of their base in Perth broke up a tortuous spell in quarantine.
“I got put in some van with this ultra-mask on, driven across town, around the back of a hotel, up this lift that looks like it is used for laundry or like a food cart – it’s not a human lift – right up to the top floor, and that was me up there on my own for seven days.
“I felt like Mr Burns off the Simpsons – all weak and tired. Three days of it was me in and out of sleep. Then you get into a little routine – get up, ring the chef, have a coffee, have your breakfast.
“I watched quite a lot of Aussie Rules Football. They have a whole channel for it so I watched a fair bit of that. I watched all of Stranger Things and Tom Brady on Disney+, it was called Man in the Arena.
“What I took from that is how he always has an influence on his team-mates. In the back of my head I was thinking, ‘if I get out of my room, just have a good influence.
“I’m not in the best position so I can contribute on the pitch, so just try to help in other ways’.”
May trained by himself for the middle week in Brisbane and having missed the first and second Tests, he was then overlooked for the third as England snatched victory in a series decider.
“When Eddie Jones announced the team on the Monday on the last week and I wasn’t in it, I was actually quite relieved. I would have given it a go but I didn’t feel up to it,” May said.
“It would have maybe been different fitness-wise if I’d played 25 games last season, but I didn’t. Everything was backed up against me in that sense.
It was May’s second significant dose of Covid and it came just two matches into his comeback from a major knee injury.
“I haven’t really been this excited to play for a long time because I just want to flipping play,” May said.
“I’ve done so many rehab sessions, running on my own, sitting in my hotel room, I just want to play now.”