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What Pat Lam said to Kyle Sinckler in the Bristol dressing room last Saturday after his much-praised emotional reaction to Lions omission

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Ashley Western/MB Media/Getty Images)

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Pat Lam has revisited last week’s dramatic few days involving Kyle Sinckler, the England tighthead who shrugged off his earth-shattering exclusion by the Lions to bounce back a little more than 50 hours later with a man of the match performance for league leaders Bristol that was followed by an emotional live TV interview.


Sinckler has courted some negative headlines during his career but the determined way the front-rower used his Lions anger to fuel a captivating display for the Bears resulted in widespread admiration for him in the wake of a roller coaster ordeal that culminated in him wearing his heart on his sleeve when questioned on TV post-game.

It was a hot topic Lam breezily returned to on Wednesday when Bristol went back to work ahead of next Monday’s home meeting with Gloucester which will be staged in front of 3,000 fans at Ashton Gate. His players had attended a reserve game on Sunday but had Monday and Tuesday off before getting stuck back into a season where they qualified for the Gallagher Premiership semi-finals with last Saturday’s comeback win at Bath, a triumph in which Sinckler’s effort was inspiring.

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“Once we got up there into our changing room, that is where I got told Kyle was man of the match and would be up soon,” explained Lam about last weekend. “Everyone just chilled out, but as soon as Kyle came in and he had the man of the match award, we all gave him a clap.

“I had a few words to each player and I said (to him), ‘Great game, well done, thanks’ and he just said ‘thanks’ as well. Nothing too much, just normal stuff I go through when talking with players and that is what I want. That is a professional effort. He did his job and that is what you want from every player regardless. Everyone has different situations that they have to deal with and it’s about fronting on the field and he did that.

“The thing I’m pleased with is the situation with Kyle is no different from all players and staff – everyone has their moment of adversity. Whether that is something on the field, something off the field, that is what you are trying to create, the support network for everybody in whatever situation it is. So the support that Kyle got was no different from some of the support that everyone has got at pretty much different stages in their time here which is pleasing. That is what I want to see.”


Lam also recounted the moment last Thursday when he learned that Sinckler hadn’t been chosen for the Lions and he went on to further savour how his player reacted in the time that followed before running out on the pitch at The Rec two days later.

“While he has shared that (emotion) publicly, we saw it in action from the moment it happened and he was awesome. It was a difficult situation because we were all together (watching the Lions announcement) and we just came out of a meeting – we all saw it and thought wow. Then we just got on with it and he got on with it and the group trained well.

Then someone showed me the message he put out on social media. We’re thinking the guy everyone thinks will get in doesn’t get selected and the way that he conducted himself in training, the way he trained and then the message that he put out about the Lions and getting behind them was all not only words but actions and then to perform the way that he did… this morning he (even) came in with a smile on his face all ready to go for training and contributed to the meetings. Yeah, a great example.”

Asked about the tear-jerking TV interview on Saturday, Lam added: “Obviously I have heard and seen (the reaction). It was raw emotion. He didn’t expect to be player of the match that day and be put in front of the cameras. From my perspective, when I was interviewed I’d no idea what they were going to show me when they said they were going to show me Kyle Sinckler’s interview.


“I was ‘oh now, what’s happened here?’ So that was the first time I saw it but what it highlighted was how much it means to him, how much he means to our team and the message that it gave was exactly that, it’s inspirational and (about) how to react.

“I get asked this question lots: who do you admire, which players, and I always say any sportsperson that gets knocked down and comes back. I love that. I love the fact that it’s easy when you are selected, it’s more when you face adversity in life and how you bounce back from it. It’s another example of what life is about – we all get hit with adversity and the way you channel that and use it for good.”

Lam continued that he hadn’t reached out to Lions boss Warren Gatland or forwards coach Robin McBryde for an explanation as to why Sinckler wasn’t chosen as one of the three tightheads to tour South Africa. “No, no need at all. It’s nothing at all to do with me. That is the prerogative of the coaching group and the selecting group… I expect players to be disappointed the way they react (to non-selection), but it is the way they react and how they come back.”


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