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'Genge and Sinckler are changing the face of England rugby'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Eddie Jones has hailed the diversity personified in the current England set-up by Ellis Genge and Kyle Sinckler, the props who will start a Test match together for their country for only the third time this Saturday. Despite being around for quite some time, they have only occupied the No1 and No3 jerseys at the same time just twice before – a March 2019 Six Nations win over Italy and last December’s Nations Cup final win over France. 

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Now they are set to pack down a third time together as the starting England props and coach Jones has hailed their presence in the front row versus Tonga as a great look for rugby in their country. “You look at Genge and Sinckler, they are changing the face of England rugby those two boys. There is a group there that is so exciting for us going forward, there are young men with the whole of the world of rugby in front of them

“They are funny those two, when they started off together they were both like raging bulls. They wanted to hit everything that moved, they wanted to argue everything, the whole world was against them and then they go through a period where they settle a little bit, they come to terms and now we are seeing the acceleration that will take both of them to be very good players for England. 

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“They have gone through this little maturation. They are both finding themselves a lot more, finding out what the strengths of their games are. They are both powerful scrummagers but they have had to adapt to the law changes, which has been difficult for them, and in terms of their attack, they have got an X-factor about them. 

“Both have a ball-carrying ability that isn’t seen in most props so we want them to keep working on that and keep working on their scrummaging and be the faces of diversity of England rugby. You look at their backgrounds, it’s a fantastic story for England rugby.”

It helps that they have a rapport to bring the best out of each other as they are often seen at England training with the gloves on for a sparring session. “They used to scrap without the gloves too,” quipped Jones. “Now they generally do the boxing with the gloves on but they both still have an unbelievable desire to want to be the best. That is the great thing about them.”

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Dwelling specifically on Genge, the 26-year-old who was appointed Leicester skipper for this season, England coach Jones added: “If you go back to 2016 when he was first selected for England, he was a fairly rough and tumble young fellow who had to leave Bristol, was finding his mark under (Richard) Cockerill at Leicester and we selected him based on the potential that he could be a good scrummaging and exceptionally ball-carrying loosehead prop. 

“In that five or six years, he has had a tough time in the England side. A lot of times he has been No3 loosehead behind two world-class looseheads in (Joe) Marler and Mako (Vunipola). He has continued to mature and maybe having a family has helped him and now he is a very respected member of the team. Still aggressive, still developing as a player but has great empathic skills, particularly with the younger players understanding what they are going through, and he has become a real leader in our team.”

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