KYLE SINCKLER has shrugged off Alun Wyn Jones’ latest attempts to antagonise him by thanking the Wales captain for helping mend his bad-boy ways.
The Londoner shone as England’s 33-30 defeat of Wales at Twickenham clinched the Triple Crown a year after he was the fall guy for defeat in Cardiff.
That day Sinckler had reacted to Jones’ wind-ups by conceding two penalties in quick succession, before being hauled off by head coach Eddie Jones, as England blew a half-time lead to lose 21-13. ‘I’m thankful for what happened in Cardiff because without that I would probably have kept costing the team,’ said 26-year-old Sinckler.
‘At half-time my ego was bigger than this room. Looking back on it, I enjoyed being that villain — the bad boy of English rugby. I was just very, very angry.
‘I had to harness that and understand why I was angry and kept making the same mistake. Cardiff was exactly what I needed. It was sink or swim because if I didn’t change I wouldn’t have played for England any more.’
Wales’ then coach Warren Gatland labelled him an ‘emotional timebomb’ and Sinckler admitted: ‘I definitely cost the team a Grand Slam and I probably cost everyone a shed-load of money in bonuses. I was so in denial. I never took responsibility for what happened.
‘I was saying “life is hard, it wasn’t my fault, the referee doesn’t like me, in Cardiff you’re never going to get the rub of the green”. When you strip it back, it was just ego. It was ego trying to get in with Alun Wyn Jones, trying to be that bad boy which cost the team.
‘Hopefully everyone can see — and I know myself — I’m a different person. I thank Warren Gatland and I thank Alun Wyn Jones because I feel I have grown from it and I’m only going to get better.’
Sinckler was influential for all the right reasons on Saturday as well-worked first-half tries from Anthony Watson and Elliot Daly helped England into an 11-point lead. Justin Tipuric’s breakaway try after the restart merely produced a positive response from the hosts, with Owen Farrell’s boot and Manu Tuilagi’s try restoring control.
That was only lost at the end with England reduced to 13 men after Ellis Genge was yellow carded and Tuiliagi sent off when his shoulder connected with George North’s head.
Dan Biggar and Tipuric’s late tries salvaged a bonus point for the Welsh but could not cloud Sinckler’s day of redemption. ‘The same kind of situations were happening in terms of them holding me down, someone stamping on me when I was getting up, or certain things said, but it made no effect,’ added the prop.
‘In the past I always had to get one up on people or confront people, but now if you target me that’s wasting energy on me. I’m fine, I’m not exerting any energy, I’m doing my job.
‘If two players are on top of me, that’s sweet, because then there will be two fewer guys in the defensive line.’
■ ENGLAND will discover in the next 24 hours the extent of the disciplinary fallout from their victory over Wales at Twickenham. Manu Tuilagi must appear before a disciplinary hearing — most likely tomorrow — to answer for the 75th-minute red card shown for his dangerous tackle on George North. And there could also be significant repercussions for Eddie Jones and Joe Marler, with the latter having grabbed Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones by the genitals in an incident clearly shown on replays. Under current guidelines on high tackles, referee Ben O’Keeffe was right to dismiss Tuilagi, although England coach Jones described the decision as ‘absolute rubbish’. If Six Nations disciplinary chiefs decide action is needed over those comments it will be brought under the charge of bringing the game into disrepute.