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Kyle Sinckler v Tadhg Furlong - prop contest central to England-Ireland fixture

By PA
Tadhg Furlong and Kyle Sinckler /Getty

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Rugby’s pre-eminent tighthead prop and a respected challenger to his throne will face off at Twickenham on Saturday when Kyle Sinckler and Tadhg Furlong collide in a Guinness Six Nations clash between England and Ireland.

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The two sides are France’s closest challengers in the race for the title and this weekend’s meeting will have a significant bearing on both teams’ campaigns.

Here, the PA news agency examines a contest that will help shape the outcome of the clash.

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Kyle Sinckler – Bristol and England
Position: Tighthead prop
Age: 28
Caps: 50
Lions caps: 6 (6 as a replacement)
Debut: v South Africa, 2016
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 18st 9lbs
Points: 10 (Tries 2)

Sinckler reached a half century of caps against Wales in round three and, if he continues to develop his game, he could emerge as England’s greatest tighthead prop. Sinckler’s scrummaging remains a work in progress but has grown significantly since making his debut in 2016, while maturity has brought with it a more measured temperament compared to the rookie front row with a short fuse. His points of difference, however, are his athleticism and handling. A powerful carrier at close quarters, Sinckler can also pick sharp lines, with his pace sweeping him past defenders. England also use his soft hands to good effect and Sinckler is every inch the modern prop.

Tadhg Furlong – Leinster and Ireland
Position: Tighthead prop
Age: 29
Caps: 55
Lions caps: 6 (6 starts)
Debut: v Wales, 2015
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 19st 8lbs
Points: 25 (Tries 5)

If Sinckler typifies the modern prop, then Furlong is its archetype. It is remarked in Ireland that Furlong is a fly-half trapped in a prop’s body and there are few forwards – never mind front rows – with his skill set. He operates as a distributor for Ireland, with his timing and precision giving his game an extra dimension that has become increasingly influential. But for all his ball-playing instincts, the British and Irish Lions’ first-choice tighthead for the last two tours is no show pony. His work rate is high and he is a go-to carrier at close quarters, as well as in slightly wider channels. Sealing his status as the best number three in the world are his rock solid scrummaging and presence around the ruck.

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