England head coach Eddie Jones has defended his decision to substitute prop Kyle Sinckler after Wales coach Warren Gatland labeled him an ’emotional time bomb’ in the lead up to the widely-anticipated Six Nations clash.
After Sinckler became involved in yet another on-field scuffle with an opposition player, Jones substituted the Harlequins prop in the 56th minute.
“He’s a fantastic rugby player but he does have a few demons to deal with,” Gatland fired in the post-match press conference, reiterating the theme of his earlier comments.
Sinckler gave away two penalties in quick succession before his subbing but Jones maintains the decision was tactical.
“I didn’t know Warren had a degree in clinical psychology, so let me know and I might go and see him as well.
“We just felt it was the opportune time to make a change. Every time you make a change there’s a number of factors involved. He was starting to get a little bit tired.
“I know you guys want to single him out because Warren said what he said, but don’t be unfair to him. He’s a young player on the way up. Look after him a bit.”
After infamously rarking up Irish flanker Peter O’Mahony in the opening fixture, Sinckler was involved in a scuffle with French openside Arthur Iturria in their next fixture. Despite the spotlight bringing attention to his antics in recent teams, he claimed following the match that he ‘always knows’ what he is doing.
“Whatever is said, I’m always in control and I always know what I’m doing. I’m never out of control,” Sinckler said.
Gatland not only questioned the emotional intelligence of Sinckler but also the collective mental strength of the England team, revealing he ‘questioned whether they can win these big games’.
“England were outstanding in the first two games,” he said.
“But I look back on England in the last few years. When it’s really mattered, I’ve questioned whether they can win these big games.
Wales fought back from 10-3 down at halftime to win 21-3 on the back of a shift in momentum and winning key moments in a match where little separated the two teams.
Jones believes it was a game of ‘fine margins’ that ultimately cost England.
“We started the second half brilliantly but lost a bit of momentum and gave away some penalties, which allowed them back in the game. They beat us in the air, the penalty count was lopsided and when you are getting beaten in those two areas when it’s a tight game, you are going to struggle.
“Full credit to Wales, they played very well, deserved to win today, played smartly, and we just let ourselves down in the areas I spoke about.”
“We’ll lick our wounds and get ready for Italy. Beat Italy, we are in the last round and we’ll see where the land lies. Wales are a tough side, they have a good chance of winning the Six Nations but we’ll be chasing them, they have a couple of hard games coming up.”
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