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'Eddie calls him sardines. I don't know why' - Ellis Genge breathlessly describes the personality of each of England's props

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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Ellis Genge went all Reservoir Dogs to introduce rugby fans to the England props for this year’s Guinness Six Nations, the Leicester loosehead appearing in an episode of Inside Line, the mini English documentary series, to give a rundown on the various No1s and No3 at the disposal of Eddie Jones.  


The England coach is a great admirer of the different personalities he has to pick from, claiming: “The thing I love about our props is they are so diverse. Looseheads and tightheads have always been traditionally a little bit different. Tightheads traditionally were a more introverted and looseheads more extroverted but with our group of players it’s a little bit different.”

How different is something England squad regular Genge proceeded to explain in a humorous fashion. “Here at England, we have some very fruity individuals, especially in the front row and amongst the props who all have different aliases. Why not do some music, like the beat of Reservoir Dogs?

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“First up you have got Harry Williams, The Conspiracist, sits in his room with tin foil on his head and a magnet in his mouth. And then you have got Tom West, The Foodie, AKA Westie. Apparently, he is related to John West, the owner of the tuna company. Eddie calls him sardines. I don’t know why.

“Then you have got Beno (Obano), AKA Benzs, AKA Cynic, the musical one. Used to be a rap artist out of South London. Now he is a pirate from Bath. Eddie calls him that because he had a gold earring and wore a bandana once. I thought he was because he had a wooden leg. 

“Then you have got Will Stuart, AKA Stuey. Used to have a sick mullet like me… Then you have got Mako (Vunipola), The Experienced One. Apparently, he has seen more action than Pierce Brosnan in a movie trailer. And then you have got Sincks (Kyle Sinckler), The Loud One. AKA Kitchen, AKA Daddy. 


“Then you have got me, Gengey, the brains behind the organisation. Handsome, best gamer, best rig, best chat, fastest, strongest, smells the best, best cook, best lid… are we still recording?”

With Genge’s musical tribute over, Williams, who played off the bench last week against Scotland before being released back to Exeter, added: “It would be dull if everyone was just the exact same. I couldn’t tell you for what reason but the front row seems to invite more individuals to it as opposed to other positions in the team.”

Obano, who appeared off the bench versus the Scots to make his Test debut, said: “My theory comes back to the idea that the props we see now were probably bigger than everyone else when they were a child and when you are bigger your interactions with people are just a little bit different… it’s odd that there is such a group of us that is just a bit different to everyone else.”

England will start the suspension-free Sinckler and the fit-again Vunipola against Italy this Saturday having begun last week’s defeat with Stuart and Genge. Scrum coach Matt Proudfoot also had his say in the video clip about the characters in the English front row. 


“My experience in coaching front row, you need to empower their personalities to come out. The more you can you free up their personalities the more they can perform as who they are and you harness their strengths rather than get them to fit a particular mould,” he explained. 

“The world tends to think of a prop as being this beer-drinking, jovial character but a lot of them are quite deep thinkers, a lot of them are really focused on a lot of other aspects of life. When they need to play in the front row and scrum against the opposition it’s man against man… and if he is not confident in his character that is going to show up. 

“You always have to get them on the edge emotionally, mentally, physically, you have got to get them on the edge to perform and be ready to train. So that switch of when they are off they can be off and relax a bit and laugh.

“That is where the history of the front row club comes together because they know what they have to go through to get ready so when it is time to get boots on again they switch on and you can see them taking this metamorphosis that it is on. It’s time to work now.”


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