Bristol-bound Kyle Sinckler has said his goodbyes at Harlequins, the club posting a nine-minute video on YouTube where the England tighthead reflected on his excellent development at the London-based Premiership club and revealed the moment that was the making of his career.
The 27-year-old, who first came on the scene during the title-winning Conor O’Shea era, explained that the signing of Wales’ Adam Jones was the making of him, Sinckler also giving thanks to a plethora of coaches who showed patience in him despite various discipline issues and incidents over the years.
It was 2015 when Jones, who is now coaching under current club boss Paul Gustard, first arrived at the Stoop, a decision Sinckler didn’t initially take kindly to. However, he eventually came around to O’Shea’s way of thinking and within two years, he was coming off the bench in the Lions’ drawn Test series versus New Zealand and laying the foundation in a 35-cap England career that saw him selected to start in last November’s World Cup final.
Speaking to the Harlequins YouTube channel ahead of officially becoming a Bristol player on July 1, Sinckler said: “When you get a lot very early as a young person you tend to take it for granted and the moment that changed for me was when Conor sat me down and said, ‘I’m bringing in Adam Jones’.
“I was like, ‘God, I’m never going to play now’. We have got Will Collier, Adam Jones is arguably one of the greatest ever tighthead props, and I was nervous. I remember the first time meeting Adam. We were in the gym doing some skills or fitness and he came up to me. “He said, ‘Nice to meet you. I’m Bomb (his nickname)’. And I said, ‘Nice to meet you too. I’m really, really a big fan. I’m Kyle’. He said, ‘Don’t worry, I know who you are. I’m going to help you’.
"You say rugby is an inclusive sport, the challenge is for it to be inclusive for all, not just inclusive for the people who fit the bill"
– Stirring words from Maro Itoje on how rugby in England must broaden its horizons and reach into BAME communities https://t.co/KhjFiynYyJ
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 10, 2020
“From that moment on he probably got annoyed with me, I was just following him around. Whatever he was doing in the gym, I’m doing the exact same thing. If he is doing extra fitness, I’m doing extra fitness. Whatever extra scrummaging, I’m speaking to him, I’m picking his brain. I’m literally trying to get every bit of knowledge out of him. I was probably a bit of an annoyance at the time but I just wanted to learn.”
That attitude to get better and improve was why the Harlequins coaching staff stood by the prop despite some challenging moments. “Something I’m very grateful for is everyone was so patient with me,” continued Sinckler. “I feel like I have matured a lot and I understand where I went wrong but in the same breath, I’m thankful for those experiences because I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.
“I have a lot of gratitude for Harlequins because they were forever patient with me… I don’t how they [the coaches] put up with me with some of the stuff. So many things happened behind the scenes they could have given up on me but they always kept plugging away, kept pushing me in the right direction and always having my best interests at heart, staying patient and just showing their belief in me.
“One thing that I have loved in my time at Harlequins is our identity, the way we play. Probably my first seven years at the club, mainly influenced by Conor and how he wanted us to play. You’d call it ‘the Quins way’. That very often was a massive emphasis on offloads, running the ball from anywhere, playing heads-up rugby and playing what you see. That suited me.’
“There were a few occasions that I have kicked the ball and they turned out alright, and then there were some times that was an absolute nightmare. Conor was instrumental with my development at such an early age. He never berated me for making those mistakes or trying things or doing offloads. He was all for it and making me learn my own way, letting me make my mistakes.”
It was late January, just before the start of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations with England, that it was revealed Sinckler would be joining Bristol on a two-year deal. Leaving Harlequins won’t be easy for the Londoner but experiencing a change of scenery was want he wanted.
“As your career moves on you understand that you have to do things that are solely best for you. I feel at this current moment in time, not just in my career but in my life, that where I am at on a personal level and where I am going, Bristol will be the best place for me to thrive.
“I just feel like I need to experience something different, be out of my comfort zone, be in uncomfortable situations in terms of not knowing my surroundings, building new relationships and really finding out who I am.”
Great bit of business by Paul Gustard https://t.co/pD1fNPQXTY
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 9, 2020
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