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England defend Sinckler decision five days after prop failed HIA

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

England boss Eddie Jones has defended the decision to select Kyle Sinckler on the bench for Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations finale despite last weekend’s failed head injury assessment. The tighthead was withdrawn from the field of play near the interval of last Saturday’s 15-32 loss to Ireland and he didn’t return for the second half after failing his HIA. 

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Sinckler has since been progressing through his return to play protocols and five days after his head knock, he was named on Thursday as an England replacement for the round match away to the Grand Slam-chasing France. 

The decision to pick him on the bench is somewhat of a grey area in the sense that if he will be fit then why isn’t he starting rather than Will Stuart, who has only started on three previous occasions in his 19-cap career? The alternative perspective is if Sinckler isn’t right at the moment, then why has he been chosen as a replacement when backup prop Joe Heyes is fully fit and available for a sub role?

There was a huge concussion controversy recently when Wales picked Tomas Francis to start at tighthead against France just 13 days after he worryingly wobbled following a head knock against England at Twickenham. Now, Sinckler is looking to get back into action with the English just seven days after his own head knock. 

“I only follow medical protocols,” insisted England boss Jones about the delicate situation that first-choice tighthead Sinckler currently finds himself in. “We have got a very good medical staff. Wales went through the same thing with Tom Francis

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“There are protocols in place to ensure the safety of the players and it is not for me to second-guess the medical staff. He goes through all the protocols, we get an independent professor to judge his status to play the game and then we take all that into consideration and if it is all positive then he is fit for selection.”

Those comments from Jones about the England medics and Sinckler came in the embargoed section of his media briefing from Paris. Before that, when explaining the five changes to his starting XV from the loss to Ireland, the England coach had said: “Will Stuart has impressed us in the Six Nations.

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“Kyle has had a difficult last two weeks. He had no training last week because of his back and this week he has been doing the return to play protocol through concussion so the only training session he did was today [Thursday]. So that makes it difficult for him to start the game and therefore that is a fairly simple one to explain.”

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Gwynfryn 826 days ago

What is the point of introducing strict concussion protocols if, at the first opportunity, countries, clubs, you name them, disregard the protocols? I read somewhere - probably on a different platform - that players are paid millions (I don’t know where that figure comes from) to play the game they love and that they know the risks. This sounds like a ‘stand up and take it like a man’ approach which might have worked on the past but these players are now so big, strong and fast that head-knocks are dangerous. Ignoring or fudging the protocols are, frankly, irresponsible to the point of criminality.

Boxers, who train to take head knocks, are covered by stringent tests after being knocked out, and are not allowed to fight again until they are 100% fit. I am sorry to introduce a note of frivolity into the argument but I knew a man who was possibly the worst fighter ever - he spent most of his time on his back - and I remember him describing the examinations he had to endure, even to the point when he was about to leave when the Board doctor told him to wait because he wanted to examine his eyes which drew the question ‘Oh doc, you don’t think I have a detached rectum do you?’ But it makes the point that the British Boxing Board of Control has extremely strict medical rules and the decision is taken out of the hands of the boxer’s entourage.

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