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After delivering the most impressive performance of his young England career yet, Kyle Sinckler revealed the emotional journey he has embarked on through a fatherless childhood and a career laced with anger and frustration that brought him to a breakout performance in a Rugby World Cup quarter-final.
That emotional rollercoaster appeared to be released the moment that Sinckler scored his maiden Test try, a crucial score in the second-half that rebuilt the lead England had just sacrificed against Australia and paved the way for their record-equalling 40-16 victory that booked their place in the semi-finals. Arms outstretched, a beaming smile on his face, Sinckler roared in delight before the exhaustion began to kick in.
The tighthead prop has been trusted by Eddie Jones this year to start their biggest games in the No 3 jersey ahead of 93-cap Dan Cole, such has been his development over the last 18 months, but it hasn’t always been so smooth for the likeable south Londoner.
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Sinckler found himself targeted by Warren Gatland – the man who picked him for the British and Irish Lions tour two years ago – before this February’s Six Nations clash, a tactical barb aimed at using his own emotions against him. Combined with the craft of Alun Wyn Jones, Sinckler allowed his frustrations to get the better of him, and conceded two crucial penalties at the end of a standout display that helped Wales to a victory that cost England dearly.
“If I’m being honest, the Wales game taught me a lot,” Sinckler said in the depths of Oita Stadium. “I let the team down, I let my country down, if we had won that game we would have been Grand Slam champions. I had to look within and just work on that side of my game.”
He added: “I feel like I’ve got a real big responsibility for the team, and not only the team, the people watching back home, especially people where I come from. I want to leave a good example for them, show them how to play the game. A sign of toughness isn’t what you say to the opposition or how you react with handbags, but it’s your next action and that’s something I’ve tried to really, really improve in my game.”
The way that the 26-year-old has developed in the last few months has stood out massively, so much so that he is unquestionably among the leading tighthead props in the world right now – an appearance in the last four of the World Cup this weekend will help to prove that.
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