Courtney Lawes has warned Wales that any attempt to provoke Kyle Sinckler in a repeat of last year’s Cardiff showdown will backfire.
England slipped to a 21-13 defeat despite leading 10-3 at half-time as Sinckler eventually reacted to relentless goading led by Alun Wyn Jones, conceding penalties in quick succession that helped change the momentum of the game.
Detecting that his fuse was about to blow, Eddie Jones replaced the fiery prop on the hour mark, but only after having drawn from him probably his finest England performance.
Since then Sinckler has addressed some personal issues and Lawes insists he is a more mature player as Wales visit Twickenham for Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations clash.
“Kyle’s come a long way. He’s always been a pretty feisty character and he still is. He needs that – it’s part of him and what makes him such a great player,” Lawes said.
“But he’s able to control it now. He knows where the line is and where he needs to be in terms of that line.
“Teams haven’t even tried it in this Six Nations and that’s testament to how he’s matured as a player.”
Fly-half George Ford insists Sinckler is more in control of his emotions than 12 months ago, but insists he is also able to count on his team-mates.
“I would agree that Kyle’s career has risen since last year. He would say that himself,” Ford said.
“He probably reflected on that game from an individual point of view and learnt massively from it. I know in that particular game he had a few things going on.
“But it’s also about how the team can help individuals out because we have learnt from that game as a team.
“We know that teams will go after a few individuals, as we would to the opposition.
“With Sink, he has learnt and addressed a few things and got better at a few things himself.
“We have probably become more aware that those things are going to happen and what can we do as a team to make sure it doesn’t escalate to the point where it will cost us.
“We have definitely had a few discussions. It’s a balance. You don’t want to make too much of a big deal about it because you end up speaking about the opposition too much, but you have to anticipate it and be aware of it so it doesn’t come as a shock.
“We have discussed what potentially could happen and the plan of what we would do to look after individuals and look after the team.”
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