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'Maybe he was starting to get a bit too comfortable': Sinckler's invaluable Lions lesson

By Liam Heagney

Trending on RugbyPass

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Eddie Jones has expressed his delight that Kyle Sinckler was called up for the 2021 Lions tour 31 days after he had been omitted from the original squad announced by Warren Gatland on May 6. An injury to Ireland tighthead Andrew Porter last weekend opened up a slot for Sinckler and Jones, who had intended selecting the prop for England’s summer series, was thrilled he will no longer have the player available to him.

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Sinckler had outlined his anger on May 8 following his Lions omission, speaking emotionally two days later in the wake of his man of the match performance for Bristol away to Bath. The emotional way Sinckler spoken and the manner in which he positively channelled his aggression in adversity greatly impressed and it was ultimately rewarded by a call from Gatland four weeks later. 

“Really pleased for him,” said Jones. “You can ask Warren but he probably made it a no-brainer when you saw the reaction of Kyle after he was left out. It probably made him think, ‘Well, if I get a problem here he is going to be first on the boat.

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“As a result of that attitude, that desire to be at his best, Kyle will tell you himself, this has been an important stage in his career where maybe he was starting to get a bit too comfortable and now he realises he can never be that. There is never an opportunity for a player to be comfortable because they have got to keep growing. This little period has been so beneficial for his development as a player.”

Jones was speaking after he had unveiled a 34-strong squad for England training next week which included 21 uncapped players. The England boss has outlined the previous week that the plan was for Sinckler to be involved in the series once his Premiership campaign with Bristol is over and he had spoken about the maturation which the tighthead and Ellis Genge, another Lions omission, has been going through.

“Both of those guys particularly, they are going through a maturation stage of their career,” he suggested. “They came in as angry guys and they are now maturing into very aggressive, consistent players. I particularly liked the response to their non-selection by playing better rugby and what we want them to do is not to have non-selection to be the stimulus for them to play better rugby, just keep playing better rugby and be the best player in the world that you can be.”

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The irony about the timing of Sinckler’s Lions call-up last weekend was that he was injured at the time has picked up a hamstring issue at Bristol training the previous Thursday. It’s not a major issue, as Lam expects the front-rower to be available next week for the Premiership semi-finals but he explained the problem could have been far worse but for Sinckler’s additional work with the Bears strength and conditioning staff. 

“He should be fully ready to go for semi-finals rugby,” reported Lam at his weekly Bristol media briefing. “Thankfully the work that he has done with our RTP (Return To Perform) team this season, when he first came in they looked at his history of injuries and strains and they put a phenomenal programme for him to strengthen a lot of his key muscles as a scrummager and as a dynamic rugby player. 

“It would be fair to say that the injury he suffered on Thursday if he hadn’t had done that work that could have been a lot more serious and it’s a real credit to Kyle and the work that he has put in. It really bulletproofed a lot of his key muscles.

“When it [last week’s injury] first happened I thought, ‘Oh no’. But the great thing is since then the scan revealed that he could be back very soon and then he got the news for the Lions. He has been working away and I saw him out there today [Wednesday] and he should be fully fit, ready to go semi-finals week.”

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'Maybe he was starting to get a bit too comfortable': Sinckler's invaluable Lions lesson

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