England have no intention of curbing Kyle Sinckler’s enthusiasm
Coach urges prop to take special treatment as compliment as tempers with Georgians flare again
Kyle Sinckler gave away two penalties in quick succession against Wales before being withdrawn by Eddie Jones just before the hour mark. Photograph: Paul Childs/Action Images via Reuters
England have no intention of curbing Kyle Sinckler’s competitive instincts after Wales sought to wind up the tighthead prop last Saturday, with the defence coach John Mitchell urging him to take such special treatment as a compliment.
Sinckler excelled for the first 55 minutes against Wales, making a staggering 16 first-half tackles, winning the scrum penalty which put England ahead and carrying the fight to Warren Gatland’s side. But two penalties in quick succession amid an ongoing tussle with the Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones saw Eddie Jones withdraw Sinckler just before the hour mark, with Gatland suggesting after the match his ploy to target England’s number three – who he had described as an “emotional time bomb” – had worked.
Sinckler’s apparent loss of composure coincided with Wales seizing the momentum in their 21-13 victory but Mitchell does not want the 24-year-old, who was also involved in flashpoints against Ireland, to lose his fiery edge.
“In this generation of players, you don’t have a lot of players who do [play on the edge],” said Mitchell. “So he is unique in the way that he does play on the edge and the last thing that we want to do is ever take that away from him because it is something that he can bring to us in a very positive way.
“Gats won the Test, didn’t he, so he can say what he likes. At the end of the day, most teams are targeting the best players; the great thing is that they see him as one of our best players. In itself, that is a great accolade. So now that he understands he is in that bracket, he can actually use it to his and our advantage.
“He is 24 years of age, an exceptionally gifted athlete as a tighthead; he’s going to be a very good player for England, he already is. As he matures, he is going to be outstanding. He is just going through a process, like any young man, learning and growing in self-awareness. I think we are blessed with an outstanding player. Kyle is a guy with an abundance of talent and all the game is doing now is asking him to contribute to the team, when it really matters, without losing his ability to play on the edge.”
Tempers flared again, meanwhile, as Sinckler and co locked horns with Georgia at England’s training camp in Oxford on Thursday. When the two sides took part in a live scrummaging session on Wednesday, a mass brawl erupted, with punches thrown in front of a large group of onlooking schoolchildren. Thursday, scrums were off the menu but during a high-octane match scenario, a thumping tackle again prompted things to briefly boil over again – much to the delight of the watching schoolchildren who burst into loud applause.
“[Being] put in the heat of the moment and then coming away from it with a clear head and getting a good rugby result out of it – it has been great for us,” said the England lock George Kruis. “It is all well thought of by the coaches and they spend hours thinking of the psyche and why and how we do things.
“I understand it might be portrayed as a minor thing and guys going at it, but it is well thought-of and calculated and it gives us a chance to go against an opposition we don’t play too much. Chuck some curve balls in and figure it out.”
With no scrums taking place, both England and Georgia practised lineouts and mauling as well as their mini-match, in which both sides scored two tries apiece. Maro Itoje did not take part as he continues his rehabilitation from knee ligament damage and neither did Jonny May, who is continuing his return-to-play protocols from a head injury, while Jack Nowell is nursing a minor knock. England are hopeful all three will be available to face Italy on Saturday week.