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'He said 20 per cent and I said, Wow' - Lam reacts to Sinckler's Bristol 'struggle' claim

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by INPHO via EPCR)

Pat Lam has reacted to the claim by Kyle Sinckler that he has only been “functioning at 20 per cent of my best at Bristol” since his summer Gallagher Premiership move away from Harlequins. Currently in England camp, the tighthead explained that settling in had been difficult as he was unable to see his family and was restricted in getting to know his new surroundings due to the lockdown.  


“I guess for me, my issues have been I had to move in the middle of lockdown and I haven’t seen my mum since June. I haven’t seen any family,” said Sinckler about Bristol at the start of the week. “I’ve been in Bristol and basically we have been on our own little lockdown because you can’t go out – if you get coronavirus and bring it back to the team that is not going to be good.

It’s just been a big change and I appreciate everyone there that has been massively patient with me. I’m just excited to get back some form (with England) and then when I get back to Bristol, whenever that may be, I want to try and do the fans proud.

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Dylan Hartley and Ryan Wilson reflect on England’s win over Ireland
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Dylan Hartley and Ryan Wilson reflect on England’s win over Ireland

“I’ve gone to Bristol and it’s like starting again from zero. I can only give thanks to Pat Lam and the coaches that have massively helped me.”

Lam has now reacted to the Sinckler revelation, suggesting it was positive that the prop had still been so influential at Bristol despite only operating at limited capacity. “That’s pretty exciting because I have been pretty happy with what he has done,” said the Bears coach on Wednesday.

“I know that he could be better but he said 20 per cent and I said, ‘Wow’. Kyle is great. I’m really pleased for him. He has fitted in so well here, he’s a great guy and the guys love him here too. He’s been great. He has been getting better and better as he goes, in international rugby as well. He came through and started the (Challenge Cup) final for us and was superb. But that is Kyle. He knows he is always pushing. He’s such a quality professional. 


“Every part of his game he is trying to improve on and off the field, it’s all about getting better. It always is tough for people (moving). Well, covid has been tough for everybody but certainly changing and transition, I’m just glad that he is enjoying himself here and I’m also pleased that he feels he can get better. But in reality, it doesn’t surprise me because that is Kyle, he always wants to get better every day.”

It was unusual for a player to be so publicly candid about what they felt was a shortcoming, but Lam has taken great encouragement from Sinckler’s confidence to speak out about his settling-in issues, hoping it can prompt other players at the club and elsewhere to go and seek help whenever they are having any kind of problem rather than bottle it up and struggle even more. 

“No rugby player is the same, no person is the same,” continued Lam. “The most important thing is we talk about self-awareness. Great teams have players who are self-aware, they acknowledge the good things but more importantly, they realise I need to better here so I need some help, whether that is on the field or off.

“The other thing that is really important is (being) socially aware. We are not all from Bristol, we’re not all from England, we’re not all white, we’re not all black, we’re not all brown. We are all individuals and as I said to the boys what we are living here, we are a great example of how the world can be a better place.


“I have said look at all the backgrounds we have here, look at all the different educations that people have had, no one really cares because ultimately it is about respecting, appreciating and valuing everyone and I love it. No individual will truly be their best if they don’t feel they belong. That is a big part of what we do because the boys won’t be able to play the way they do and more importantly we can’t be honest (if they can’t be themselves). 

“Because it was pretty honest in the review session yesterday (Tuesday, after Sunday’s loss at Wasps). I came pretty hard at some players. They knew I was going to come but also before I did that I acknowledged all the unbelievable good work that we did in that Wasps game and then I came hard because you’re not going to learn if I’m not honest with them.”

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