May undertook the partly self-funded training camp to improve his speed but also took the opportunity to speak to Gardner, the US athlete and one of the fastest women of all time.
NFL free agents were among those present at the centre, but it was the advice and experience of 26-year-old Olympic relay gold medallist Gardner that most interested May.
The pair endured the same type of knee injury that threatened to have a significant impact on their pace, only to make full recoveries. May, who sustained his knee blow in December 2015, went on to produce the finest Rugby of his career during this year’s June tour of South Africa.
“We talked about all sorts. I don’t really get …. ‘wow, it’s that person’,” the England wing said.
“It was awesome for me to meet her because when I did my knee two years ago, the surgeon said it was touch and go whether I’d come back at the same speed.
“People say you lose five per cent after an ACL. I was trawling though the internet to find people who have had the same injury.
“English Gardner blew her knee out just before she went to college. She had scholarships taken away and then within 13 months ran a record time and now she’s one of the fastest women in the world.
“Her dad is her coach as well, so I had a few chats with him. It was nice to meet them and she’s a role model for me. She definitely inspired me.”
May, who has yet to meet four-time Olympic gold medallist Johnson during his two visits to the centre in McKinney, is confident he will continue to improve the speed that identifies him as one of the sport’s fastest players.
“The primary focus of the training was on speed training so lots of agility, plyometrics, acceleration, top-end speed etc,” said May, who also went on a golfing holiday to Spain with George Ford and their respective partners.
“I like the training in Texas. It’s perfect for what I want to do. I had a good couple of weeks there and I’ve come back feeling pretty good.
“America don’t mess around with sports.
“At Pennyhill Park (England’s Surrey training base) you think ‘wow, that’s amazing’, but over there it goes even further.
“It’s awesome training and I enjoy it and always learn something new. I want to get quicker and smarter as a Rugby player as well.
“I’ve gradually been getting better and played the best Rugby I’ve ever played out in South Africa and was running fast as well. I’m committed to being faster. I’ll keep at it and hopefully get faster over time.”
Pressure group Pacific Rugby Players Welfare (PRPW) has launched its “Seats At The Table” campaign, to push for greater Pacific Islands representation on the World Rugby Council.
The Pacific Islands nations’ only current influence on the World Rugby Council falls under Oceania Rugby’s two votes of a total 48. That regional umbrella organisation also represents the interests of New Zealand and Australia.
The unions of the All Blacks and the Wallabies also boast three individual votes apiece, leaving Samoa, Tonga and Fiji sharing two council votes with the nine other Oceania Rugby nations.
World Rugby has branded PRPW’s stance “surprising” however, insisting widespread 2015 reform allows any union the chance to earn an individual council vote – already seized upon by Georgia, Romania and the United States.
“We’re massively over-represented in every other area in Rugby, aside from administration,” the chief executive of PRPW Dan Leo told Press Association Sport.
“We’ve got terrific coaches in men like Pat Lam, Tana Umaga, Simon Raiwalui, and a new generation of young coaches coming through quickly as well.
“But then Fiji, Samoa and Tonga have just one per cent combined influence on the World Rugby Council. It’s not right.
“We consider this an unfair inequality in the global game, and we feel that improving the Pacific Islands nations’ representation on the World Rugby Council would prove a major step towards allowing the global game to flourish in precisely the way all the sport’s power brokers actually want.”
Leo and PRPW launched their “Seats At The Table” campaign on Wednesday in a bid to highlight the growing influence of Pacific Islands players across the global game.
More than one fifth of all players at the 2015 Rugby World Cup were of Pacific Islands descent, with 15 per cent representing Tonga, Samoa and Fiji. Some 43 players of Pacific Islands descent represented nine of the 17 competing nations outside that region.
Samoa, Tonga and Fiji have all qualified for the last two World Cups, but do not currently meet World Rugby’s full criteria to command individual council votes.
Fiji, Samoa &Tonga have no direct representation on WR Council— PacificRugbyWelfare (@pacificwelfare) August 8, 2018
F, S &T have no direct representation on the 4 standing committees of WR
F, S &T have no representation on the 5 advisory committees either direct or indirect
F, S &T HAVE NEVER voted on election of chairman of WR https://t.co/gHvAIPPNdZ
The game’s global governing body insists that any union already has the ability to earn the right to an individual council vote.
“These comments are surprising, given that there is a clear, transparent and fair pathway for all unions to take a seat on Council under sweeping governance reform launched in 2015 under Bill Beaumont’s leadership,” said a World Rugby spokesman.
“It has successfully incentivised unions and Georgia, Romania and USA have already taken their seat having achieved the criteria, while we continue to work with a number of unions, including the Pacific Islands, to assist them in achieving the necessary criteria to achieve Council status.”
Former Wasps and Samoa lock Leo explained PRPW believes a fairer set-up would centre more around World Cup qualification, in a bid to foster development among emerging nations.
“What makes sense to us is that if you’re in the World Cup you get two votes, if you’re outside the World Cup and you’re a Tier Two or developing nation, you get one vote,” said Leo.
“So that would be up for change every four years, but we consider this a meritocratic, performance-based approach.
“It incentivises strong performances, but would also help smaller nations and unions in becoming the masters of their own destiny. This approach would not just help the Pacific Islands either.”
The true achievement of New Zealand Rugby, apart from being the reigning two-time Rugby World Cup winners (2011 and 2015), Bledisloe Cup holders (every year since 2003) and Rugby Championship champs (five times out of the last six years), is being able to hold on to their best players.
Despite the lure of huge dollars from Europe they leak very few of their premium stars to France or England, and even when they do lose a current All Black they have a replacement ready to step in who is just as good: Jack Goodhue for Malakai Fekitoa (Toulon), Richie Mo’unga for Lima Sopoaga (Wasps) and Scott Barrett for Steven Luatua (Bristol).
The Kiwis’ talent and depth makes them the envy of the rest of the world.
Casting an eye over the other nations’ squads – South Africa, Australia and Argentina – it’s hard to see them giving the All Blacks too much trouble.
The Springbok squad annouced by Rassie Erasmus for the @CastleLagerSA Rugby Champs include three uncapped players in Cyle Brink, Marco van Staden and Damian Willemse, while Malcolm Marx, Eben Etzebeth and Warren Whiteley are back from injury. #LoveRugby pic.twitter.com/ShF5OwRbvG— South African Rugby (@Springboks) August 6, 2018
Wallabies boss Michael Cheika has shifted the deckchairs a little, bringing Crusaders’ flanker Pete Samu straight into the squad, though he is yet to represent an Australian Super Rugby team.
The 18-year-old Queensland flyer Jordan Petaia adds some interest as does the recall of midfielder Matt Toomua, who although he still plays in Leicester has become re-eligible for the Wallabies as he has signed for the Melbourne Rebels for 2019.
Toomua’s Tigers team mate Tatafu Polota-Nau is also named in the squad adding much-needed starch to the Wallabies’ hooking stocks, qualifying as he has played the requisite 60 Tests for an overseas based player.
There is no place however for Rebels flanker Richard Hardwick who impressed for the Australian Super Rugby Selection against the Wallabies in the pre-Bledisloe Cup trial last Friday.
The Wallabies have experience and considerable talent in fly-half Bernard Foley, captain Michael Hooper, flanker David Pocock, lock Adam Coleman, centre Kurtley Beale and full-back Israel Folau but they seem two or three forwards short of having a pack that can dominate the All Blacks – and that is what you need to do if you are going to beat them.
#BREAKING | Your #Wallabies team to face the Australian Super selection this Friday at Leichhardt Oval. FREE entry, kicking off at 6:45pm. #BledisloeCup READ: https://t.co/DSrGv3Pm77 pic.twitter.com/mzVGSEKfuL— Qantas Wallabies (@qantaswallabies) August 1, 2018
The Springboks will certainly be aiming to do just that and have the muscle to give the All Blacks a few jitters up front.
Former captain and lock Eben Etzebeth returns and he will help make up a monster pack with hooker Malcolm Marx, flanker Francois Louw, prop Steven Kitshoff and fellow lock RG Snyman.
They certainly have some speed to trouble New Zealand out wide too with Aphiwe Dyantyi and Makazole Mapimpi, plus the in-form full-back Willie Le Roux and scrum-half Faf de Klerk, but the Boks’ trouble will be consistency and putting together an 80-minute performance.
Any lapses in concentration and the ABs will make them pay.
New Pumas coach Mario Ledesma has opted for six new faces as he tries to turn around Argentina’s fortunes.
After being thrashed by an under-strength Wales (twice) and Scotland in June, Ledesma was brought into replace the flailing Daniel Hourcade.
But the former Pumas prop and current Jaguares coach has very little time to turn things around.
Pumas in Training today.— Paul Tait (@Argentina_2027) August 8, 2018
8 Ortega Desio
3 Tetaz Chaparro
1 García Botta
The new faces are lock Marco Ciccioli, hooker Diego Fortuny, tight head props Lucas Favre and Mayco Vivas, lock Franco Molina and Santiago Grondon, as the Pumas prepare for their opening game against South Africa in Durban next weekend.
Also included are established stars Agustin Creevy, Pablo Matera, Nicolas Sanchez and Emiliano Boffelli.
Argentina will be desperate to improve on last season’s Rugby Championship campaign when they lost all six of their games.
For the All Blacks squad click HERE.
Matias Alemanno, Rodrigo Bruni, Marco Ciccioli, Agustin Creevy, Lucas Favre, Diego Fortuny, Santiago Garcia Botta, Santiago Grondona, Marcos Kremer, Ignacio Larrague, Tomas Lavanini, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Pablo Matera, Vivas Mayco, Santiago Medrano, Franco Molina, Julian Montoya, Javier Ortega Desio, Guido Petti, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Juan Zeiss
Gonzalo Bertranou, Emiliano Boffelli, Sebastian Cancelliere, Tomas Cubelli, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Bautista Delguy, Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, Bautista Ezcurra, Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, Martin Landajo, Juan Cruz Mallia, Matias Moroni, Ramiro Moyano, Matias Orlando, Nicolas Sanchez
Jermaine Ainsley, Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, Folau Faingaa, Ned Hanigan, Michael Hooper (capt), Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, David Pocock, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Tom Robertson, Izack Rodda, Pete Samu, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, Caleb Timu, Lukhan Tui, Taniela Tupou
Tom Banks, Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Marika Koroibete, Jack Maddocks, Billy Meakes, Sefa Naivalu, Jordan Petaia, Nick Phipps, Joe Powell, Curtis Rona, Matt Toomua
Cyle Brink, Jean-Luc du Preez, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Thomas du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Steven Kitshoff, Siya Kolisi (capt), Francois Louw, Wilco Louw, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Franco Mostert, Tendai Mtawarira, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Marvin Orie, RG Snyman, Akker van der Merwe, Marco van Staden, Warren Whiteley
Lukhanyo Am, Ross Cronje, Faf de Klerk, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Andre Esterhuizen, Elton Janjies, Jesse Kriel, Willie le Roux, Lionel Mapoe, Makazole Mapimpi, Lwazi Mvovo, Embrose Papier, Handre Pollard, Ivan van Zyl, Damian Willemse