Kyle Sinckler may have been something of a surprise choice for the Lions squad, but the Harlequins prop is determined to take the opportunity with both hands.
The 24-year-old will start for the second time on the tour in Tuesday’s clash with the Highlanders and, speaking to the media ahead of that clash in Dunedin, has opened up on how some of his senior club teammates helped him deal with the on-pitch anger issues that have dogged him for his entire career, right back to his childhood.
Sinckler recalled one particular match against Wasps last year, in which he accepts he could have been sent off on multiple occasions:
“The one thing I’ve never touched on is we played Wasps away last year and I came on at half-time for Adam Jones and I was fuming that we were playing so badly and I could’ve probably been sent off about two or three times in that game.
“James Horwill and Adam Jones sat me down and took it upon themselves to tell me on that Monday after ‘look you’ve got to stop it because it’s all about you’. That’s how it comes across, it’s all about me, and it’s always me starting the fights and costing the team, and it’s bigger than yourself so I need to sit back and think if Adam Jones – 95 caps for Wales – and James Horwill – 60-70 caps, Australia captain, led them to a World Cup in New Zealand – those guys have gone out of their way to speak to me and they didn’t have to and they just said you’ve got a lot of talent but if you don’t sort your image out and sort yourself out.”
Sinckler, who has already started more games for the Lions now than he has for England, has championed the experience offered by the likes of Jones and Joe Marler, and indeed Rory Best and Alun Wyn Jones on the tour, offering advice and reining him in when it is called for:
“I’m just grateful those guys were happy to talk to me because that flicked a switch there and then and I was lucky enough to go on tour to Australia with England that summer.
“Always having Joe tell me on the pitch – as you guys in the English media usually see –having a go at me and telling me to shut up and stuff. It’s an ongoing process for me.
“I want to be physical, I want to play on the edge and in people’s faces but in the right way, and not to the detriment of the team. That conversation with James Horwill and Adam Jones put things in perspective for me.”
Ultimately, he accepted that he would have to change his game if he wanted to succeed in the game, an ongoing process for Sinckler and one grounded in selflessness:
“I’m still growing, still becoming a man, learning from my mistakes. Hopefully I just keep learning and the biggest thing is just the team, you’ve got to put yourself before the team. You’ve got to look at yourself in the mirror and say there’s no point in doing that stuff, because it’s to the detriment of the team.”
The eight-cap prop faces a battle to convince Warren Gatland that he deserves a starting place in the Test side against the All Blacks, but if he can continue his evolution and keep the aggression for where it is needed, he might start feeling more optimistic of his chances.
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