‘World’s at his feet’ – England star likened to Erling Haaland after World Cup heroics

David Skippers
Henry Arundell and Jonny May England training RWC 2023 - Alamy.jpg

England wingers Henry Arundell and Jonny May.

Jonny May believes fellow England winger Henry Arundell has the “world at his feet” if he is able to emulate the adaptability shown by Manchester City striker Erling Haaland.

Arundell was England’s star as he crossed for five tries in their 71-0 thrashing of Chile to equal his country’s record for the number of five-pointers scored in a single match, in the process becoming the 2023 Rugby World Cup’s leading try-scorer.

Eying a starting place against Samoa

The 20-year-old’s outstanding debut at the global showpiece has propelled him into contention for England’s final Pool D fixture against Samoa on October 7, either as a starter or a high-impact replacement.

As another speedster who specialises in scoring sensational length-of-the-field tries, May sees Arundell, who is competing with him for a starting place against the Pacific Islanders, as a unique talent.

“What Henry’s got is his X-factor. The world’s at his feet,” said the 33-year-old, who is playing in his third World Cup.

“Everyone around him needs to learn from him, support him and help develop him. He’s an important part of this team and we need to get him firing.

Five bloody tries! Regardless of who you’re playing, that doesn’t happen very often. It was a special day for him and his family, and I’ve got a feeling he’ll have lots of special days ahead of him.

“Henry’s an important player for us, and he is only going to get better. I’m learning from him as well, competing with him and learning from him.

“He will have some confidence now for the rest of the tournament. He’s dangerous when he has got that confidence.”

Arundell’s feat against Chile means he has now scored seven tries in nine Tests, and he is already among rugby’s most exciting players, even if he remains more raw potential than the finished article.

May believes an important lesson Arundell must learn is to remain composed if he is denied the opportunity to display his customary attacking excellence because of the nature of a game, illustrating his point through Haaland’s performance for Manchester City in the Champions League final in May.

Manchester City sealed a 1-0 win over Inter Milan in Istanbul, yet their record-breaking striker Haaland played a peripheral role.

“You want to be having your influence in attack, scoring tries and having those moments, but equally, the most important games – the hardest games – aren’t like that,” said May, who has represented England in 75 Tests.

“It’s like the Champions League final, and you watched Haaland play. It wasn’t a game about scoring lots of goals.

“Those Test matches in knockout games are not about scoring lots of tries; it’s about making the least mistakes, a game of chess. It could also come down to a moment of magic.

Respects Arundell’s ability

“I don’t want to sound patronising because we play in the same position, and I have a lot of respect for Henry as a colleague, but it’s about learning those experiences and developing through those types of games.

“He’s probably had a couple of games where he’s been scratching his head at half-time thinking ‘this isn’t what I had planned’. Sometimes, that’s just how it goes – it’s more about not making a mistake and just simmering.

“I said to him that some days you don’t even get to shoot your gun but don’t get frustrated, but Chile didn’t end up being one of those games! It easily could have been.”

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