Kyle Sinckler’s stock is rising but mentor-in-chief Adam Jones has challenged his protégé to achieve the levels of consistency that separate true greats from the rest.
Having seen off Dan Cole to establish himself as England’s first choice tight-head, Sinckler’s blistering recent performance against Australia confirmed his current status as one of the best No.3s alongside Ireland’s Tadgh Furlong and Kiwi cap centurion Owen Franks.
Jones, a Lions prop idol himself, believes Sinckler is coming of age. However, he insists it is now down to the 25-year-old to dictate how far his burgeoning career will go.
Harlequins scrum coach and Wales legend Jones told The Rugby Paper: “Kyle played for the Lions last year but from a starting point of view this has been his break-out season. He’s a regular starter for us and he started for England in the autumn and did very well.
“With players like him who are known for their ball-carrying around the field, the questions are around the set-piece, but his scrum work has been amazing. His scrum went very well in the autumn and he’s slowly becoming the all-round, all-weather prop England need.
“After the Autumn series his stock has gone up again and, along with Tadhg Furlong and Owen Franks, I’d say he’s among the top ones. Vincent Koch at Saracens is up there and a couple of Welsh boys are doing well, but the thing for Kyle now is consistency.
“Two players who always stand out for me in that respect are Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric at my old club, Ospreys. They play incredibly well for Wales and then go straight back into the Ospreys team with no messing about and play just as well for them.
“They’re eight out of tens every week so that’s the challenge for Sincks now. Sometimes you’ll have a bad game – everybody does – but if he can strive to keep those to a minimum and play like a Test match Lion every week, he’ll have a long and illustrious career ahead.”
Jones feels 20-cap Sinckler is ready to achieve that lofty target having overcome the aggressive demons in his temperament that threatened his fledgling career.
A seven-week ban for gouging in October 2017 ruled him out of last year’s Autumn Tests, but Jones said: “When I first came here in 2015 one of the things Conor O’Shea and John Kingston identified I could help Kyle with was how he approached the game.
“I don’t pretend to be a psychologist but I might have been a shoulder to cry on and he’s definitely changed. There were a few incidents here and there but he’s pretty good now and he’s learning to manage his frustrations very well and be a better player.
“You don’t see the histrionics or the arms flailing and what not any more, he’s such a good player now who’s a perfectionist and just wants to keep on improving. He’s no longer the young kid on the block and I’d say his approach to the game has changed tenfold.”
Jones insists Sinckler’s insatiable attention to detail will ensure he remains on the right path, adding: “Kyle’s a rugby fan who knows every prop’s name around the world and studies the game carefully, so we work hard on his stock scrummaging techniques.
“He loves the scrum and he’s starting to enjoy that traditional part of the contest now. Throw in the ball-carrying and tackling and he’s a fantastic addition to any team – it’s down to him now to be good enough to play international rugby for very long time.”
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