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'Fans are giving it to you straight away and chucking certain things'

By PA
(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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Kyle Sinckler is eager to feel the hostility awaiting England at Murrayfield on Saturday after a year spent playing in empty stadiums because of the coronavirus pandemic. England open their Guinness Six Nations with a fixture that is ripe for an upset as Scotland aim to continue their resurgence under Gregor Townsend.

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The Scots have won two of the last four meetings and also fought out a stunning 38-38 draw in 2019, while clashes in Edinburgh in the game’s oldest international rivalry have frequently gone down to the wire.

It has been the graveyard of English ambition in the past and even though he is often the main target for abuse from opposition supporters, Sinckler will relish the febrile atmosphere having spent two campaigns performing behind closed doors with England.

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“Murrayfield is one of the toughest places to go. One because of how hostile it is – they are going to have fans back there – and two because of the rivalry between England and Scotland,” explained the Bristol prop.

“We have been to Murrayfield a few times and it has been very, very hostile. I remember coming off the bus once or twice and the fans are giving it to you straight away and chucking certain things.

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“Emotions from the fans overboil sometimes but for me, it just shows how much it means to people and the power of sport. I love the hostility, it just makes everything a lot better in terms of the experience and it’s definitely a lot better than playing in front of no fans. The more the better!

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“You are always grateful for and appreciate the fans and none more so now because of the experience we had over the last 18 months when we were playing in these big stadiums without supporters.

“You have got the reference point of what a Millennium Stadium is like with a packed house or a Murrayfield with a packed house or a Twickenham, and then you play there and there is literally no one and you are like, ‘This is weird’.

“I tend to get a lot of stick from the fans, especially the Welsh ones, but I love it, it’s an unbelievable atmosphere. That is what the Six Nations is about, everyone wearing their hearts on their sleeves, representing the country they are from and giving their all to the boys.”

Sinckler insists a strong start is a core ingredient to a successful Six Nations and England only need to look to last year for evidence of how a setback in round one can be so damaging. Eddie Jones’ side was dispatched 11-6 by Scotland at Twickenham and never recovered, subsequently also falling to Wales and Ireland en route to their worst ever Six Nations finish of fifth place.

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“You know how big the rivalries are between the countries and what it means to the fans so there is a lot on the line, but our focus is to get off to a good start,” Sinckler said. “Because once you do that, everything else follows – the team camaraderie, the feel of the group, all that off-field stuff takes care of itself and everyone gets tighter. 

“So our focus is to hit the ground running and start well against Scotland. As we all know momentum is everything. Not just in sport, but in life. Once you build momentum, everything becomes easy. So if you don’t win your first game you are chasing your tails.”

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