Having seen Harlequins team mate Joe Marler recalled to the England squad after his second ban of the season, Kyle Sinckler is desperate to regain his own lost ground and play a part in the Six Nations championship. He is currently behind Exeter’s Harry Williams in the England tight head pecking order, but the Quins prop has a ball carrying ability that makes him a different kind of rugby beast, one with a temper he knows must be controlled.
England coach Eddie Jones made it clear that Sinckler had to improve his discipline having been arrested, but not charged, after a night out in Auckland after the final British and Irish Lions test in New Zealand. Jones said then: “He’s got to understand that the team comes before the individual. If we wants to develop his rugby career, that’ll be the big thing for him.”
Sinckler, 24, then made life tough for himself when he was banned for seven weeks in October for gouging while playing for Quins against Northampton which ruled him out of England’s Autumn tests. Having made up for lost ground, he then injured his hamstring on the eve of England’s pre-Six Nations training camp in Portugal with the initial diagnosis putting him out for six weeks and ruining is hopes of making the Championship. However, Sinckler has got back in just three weeks and continues his fight to get the match fitness needed for test rugby in the Quins front row against Leicester on Saturday.
Given the 19st prop came into season having appeared in all three tests for the Lions during the summer’s drawn series with New Zealand, Sinckler, who has won eight caps, was all set to cement his place in the England squad and his position as the biggest threat to Dan Cole’s place as the starting tight head. Then came his ban and exile from the international arena with critics again questioning if he had really found the right balance between his natural aggression and staying on the pitch.
“ This has been my toughest season and I have learnt a lot about myself and how to deal with things:” admitted Sinckler as he reflected on a season of real frustration. “ I do try and get the balance right and I will make some mistakes, but hopefully not the same ones twice. With the ban it meant I missed the Autumn tests and then I felt I was playing some good rugby only to pull up with a hamstring injury just before the England training camp. I was told the injury was six to eight weeks and I came back in just three and having hit all my markers now I have to perform well for Quins and let Eddie make his decision.
“He knows what I can bring to the table and the main thing for me it as now about being fit and ready if called upon. Rugby is a roller coaster and you just have to keep your head down and work hard. Eddie has spoken to me since the injury and he is really good at keeping in touch and has told me to keep playing and see what happens. I have to get that match fitness because if you have three weeks out you cannot expect to just go straight back into the international environment.
“Eddie is not afraid to mix it up and if I hold up my end of the bargain and play well, hopefully, he will then bring me in. I do miss being in that environment with Eddie.”
Sinckler and his team mates received a dressing down from John Kingston, the club’s director of rugby, after last weekend’s 44-22 loss at home to Wasps which left Quins in ninth place in the Premiership, five points away from the all important top six places and qualification for the European Champions Cup. A trip to Welford Road offers Quins a chance to regain lost ground and Sinckler said: “ We have had a tough week after losing in that manner with the fans leaving the stadium after 60 mins. It’s not a great feeling knowing we let so many people and ourselves down. But, we have this match to put it right and we are ready to go.”